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Suspended six-month prison sentence for Derbyshire farmer

Published: 3 March 2021

A Derbyshire farmer has received a six-month suspended prison sentence after admitting breaking regulations designed to ensure food is traceable and for failing to clear away animal carcasses posing a risk to public and animal health. 

Richard Hobday, (57), of Alstonefield, near Ashbourne, pleaded guilty to seven charges at Northern Derbyshire Magistrates Court in Chesterfield on 2 March 2021 following a successful prosecution brought by our trading standards.

Hobday received the sentence, which will be suspended for two years, along with an order to pay court costs totalling £9,467.

The first charge related to a bull being kept in fields off Elton Moor, Elton, between December 2016 and January 2019 which had an ear tag applied other than the one it had originally been used for, contrary to Cattle Identification Regulations 2007.

A second charge related to Hobday giving false or misleading information relating to the date of birth of a bull on an online Cattle Tracing System designed to ensure that meat which enters the food chain is traceable, contrary to Cattle Identification Regulations.

Two further charges related to Hobday failing to apply ear tags to a cow within 20 days of its birth and registering the birth of a calf before it was tagged, both contrary to Cattle Identification Regulations. The failure to tag and register cattle puts at risk the system designed to ensure that meat which enters the food chain is traceable.

The court heard details of a fifth charge that Hobday gave a rural payments agency inspector false or misleading information that a calf had lost its tags when he knew it had never been tagged, again contrary to Cattle Identification Regulations.

Between December 2018 and September 2019 Hobday also failed to record the movement of cattle in fields off Elton Moor, within 36 hours of the movement, against Cattle Identification Regulations, again putting in danger the system designed to ensure that meat that enters the food chain is traceable.

The seventh charge was that in a field off Elton Moor, in July 2019 Hobday failed to collect, identify and transport animal by-products, which consisted of a sheep and a bucket of lamb carcasses, without undue delay under conditions which would prevent a risk to public and animal health, contrary to Animal By-Products (Enforcement)(England) Regulations 2013.

Our Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said:

“These are serious offences as failure to ensure cattle are tagged and can be traced can endanger food safety, and therefore put members of the public at risk.

“It is essential that these regulations are followed, and records are kept up to date as the public should be able to expect they can trust what they are consuming.

“The failure to dispose of dead livestock in a timely manner is also serious, in that it risks diseases being spread, puts the safety of the food chain at risk and poses a risk to public and animal health.

“We welcome the sentence of the court as it is clear this has been treated as a serious matter. “Our trading standards officers have worked hard to bring this successful prosecution and the result sends out a clear message to others that they must follow the strict regulations which are in place.”

District Judge Taaffe told the court that the purpose of the regulations was 'not to make life difficult for farmers, it is to protect the food chain and ensure accountability and public safety'.

He added that Hobday’s conduct was 'bad practice at best and concealment at worst'.