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Farmer faces sentence over cattle identification fraud.

A FARMER who substituted a bovine TB reactor cow, by swapping its ear tags with another animal, pleaded guilty to six specimen charges at Welshpool Magistrates Court on Friday.

Emrys Jones Evans, a partner in the business IG and GM Evans of Pendugwum Farm, Llanfihangel, near Oswestry, will be sentenced in Mold Crown Court on May 12.

He also admitted another 21 charges relating to offences under the Fraud Act, Cattle Identification Regulations and Tuberculosis Regulations.

The prosecution, led by Powys County Council's Trading Standards Service, followed an investigation into farming practices at the north Powys farm in May last year, after allegations that a pedigree Holstein cow identified as infected with bTB in a test by the Animal Health Agency had its identity swapped for another animal prior to its compulsory slaughter.

An officer who attended the valuation of the pedigree animal, saw that the slaughtered animal was noticeably different.

Trading Standards staff, accompanied by Environmental Health and Animal Health Officers, and police searched the farm and found the original TB reactor animal still in the herd - but with a new identity. It was immediately isolated and slaughtered later that day. Milk from the farm was also destroyed as a precautionary measure.

Evans admitted interfering with ear tags of cattle, moving an inconclusive TB reactor off the farm in May 2010 without the authority of a licence, failing to present all animals for a TB test, presenting animals at a valuation which were animals other than their true identity and fraudulently trying to pass off an animal as a reactor when it was not.

The court heard that DNA samples from cattle on the farm showed that many were not the offspring of the animals they were supposed to be. They will be prevented from entering the food chain.

After the hearing Graham Brown, Powys County Council board member for public protection, said: "This is an extreme case within the farming community and the prosecution of this business should act as an important deterrent.

"Wales has embarked on a TB eradication programme and the rules governing TB are crucial in fighting the disease, which costs the Welsh Assembly Government millions of pounds every year in compensation."

Ken Yorston, the council's trading standards manager, said: "Farmers who try to circumvent those rules, for whatever reason, can expect to be taken to task and the full weight of the law will be used to bring them to justice.

"The recent introduction of DNA sampling of all animals identified as reactors is a direct result of this type of fraudulent activity."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 19, 2011
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