Farmer Jailed for Wilfully Flouting Animal Welfare Regulations
Farmers are often heard to complain that too much state regulation gets in the way of their work. However, one case in which a farmer was jailed for a catalogue of animal care and welfare breaches underlined that rules are usually there for good reasons and how important it is to understand and obey them.
Inspectors had found 20 decomposing cattle carcases on the farmer’s land. Five bulls had been castrated illegally and a number of failures to properly tag animals or to document their births, deaths and movements were also identified. Many of the rules that had been breached were designed to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including bovine tuberculosis.
The farmer was jailed for 16 months, and his farming partnership fined £44,000, after they admitted more than 30 breaches of regulations. The scale of the offences was described as breathtaking by the sentencing judge, who observed that a message needed to be sent out to the farming community and consumers that such conduct would meet with severe punishment.
The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal reduced the farmer’s sentence to 12 months and halved the partnership’s fine. Although the Court observed that the regulations had been knowingly, persistently and wilfully flouted, it ruled that the original sentences were excessive in the light of the depression from which the farmer was suffering at the time and his partnership’s dire financial position.