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Suffolk farmer pleads guilty to losing cattle


In a case that could have had lethal consequences for public health, a Suffolk farmer has admitted multiple charges of failing to provide records explaining the movement of cattle to and from his farm over the past 10 years.

Suffolk Trading Standards officers found evidence of almost 100 cows that could not be traced and almost the same number unregistered with authorities.

Mr Eric Moss and ARP Farms Ltd pleaded guilty to all charges at Lowestoft Magistrates Court, with final sentencing set to be carried out at crown court due to the seriousness of the offences.

Senior Fair Trading Officer John Chaplin, who has been leading the case, said:

“It is vital for public safety that farmers register and record the movement of cattle kept on their farms. By failing to do this, Mr Moss has risked public safety, and I am pleased that the courts have recognised the serious nature of these offences by referring the sentencing to crown court.”

The Government introduced strict requirements to register cattle following the outbreak of BSE in the 1990s, when it was found that the public were at risk of contracting the degenerative brain disease CJD if they consumed infected meat. This includes a legal duty to record the movement, births, deaths and lineage of cattle.

Following an inspection in May 2009 by the Rural Payments Agency, trading standards officers found 93 cattle on Botany Farm, Farnham that were not registered with the British Cattle Movement Service. Officers also found that 94 registered cattle could not be traced and were no longer on the farm.

Despite numerous requests, Mr Moss could not provide records to indicate where these animals had gone or to show the movement, births and deaths of all of his stock over a 10 year period.

Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection said:

“This is a clear case of how important our intervention can be in keeping Suffolk people safe. By failing to provide the crucial records about the number of cattle, and their movement to and from the farm, Mr Moss has committed offences which could have serious consequences to public health. It’s also a successful example of how the different agencies work together, and how important it is to carry out inspections to ensure that anyone keeping cattle follows the rules as set out by Government.”

Suffolk Trading Standards works closely with the Rural Payments Agency and environmental health officers to ensure that British beef can be traced and is safe to eat. Farmers must register cattle for a passport, which identifies each cow’s lineage, and notify the British Cattle Movement Service if they are planning to move an animal to another location.

A date has yet to be set for Mr Moss to attend crown court for final sentencing.


On 21 November, Mr Moss pleaded guilty to three charges under the Cattle Identification Regulations 2007 and one charge under the Animal By-Product Regulations 2007 relating to his business of rearing Red Poll Cattle at Botany Farm, Farnham, Suffolk.

Cattle identification rules were introduced following the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as ‘mad cow disease’, in the 1990s. It is vital that births, deaths and movements of cattle are recorded to stop potentially diseased meat entering the human food chain.

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