A major investigation into the enforcement of farm
animal health, welfare and transport regulations has revealed more
than 65,000 breaches of the regulations over 21 months and huge
disparities in enforcement across counties in England and Wales.
The research report by the Badger Trust has used the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 to assess how consistently farm animal health,
welfare and transport regulations are being enforced in English
and Welsh counties where there is a persistent problem with bovine
It reveals that the health and welfare of farm animals is a “county
lottery”, with livestock in some counties potentially receiving
less protection from the law than others. Limited enforcement
activity in some counties also means that infectious disease controls,
such as the pre-movement testing of cattle for TB, may prove to
The study exposes some alarming statistics. Between 1 January
2004 and 30 September 2005, farmers, hauliers, abattoirs and livestock
markets in England and Wales breached farm animal health, welfare
and transport regulations more than 65,000 times.
Ten prosecutions were launched every week in 2004 (526 prosecutions).
In 2005, the number of prosecutions rose to 14 per week (534 prosecutions
initiated in nine months). Fines for successful prosecutions are
often paltry, but have been as high £101,000.
However, only a small number of the counties surveyed in this
study regularly take legal action against those who breach the
regulations. In England and Wales as a whole, the ratio of warnings
to prosecutions is 57:1, with some local authorities not initiating
any criminal proceedings at all during our survey period.
Prosecutions in England and Wales, in the nine months from 1 January
2005 to 30 September 2005, ranged from 1.7% of herds in Cornwall
to 0% of herds in Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Whilst 1.7% might
appear small, Cornwall contains 3,520 herds, resulting in 60
Farmers in neighbouring counties may face widely differing levels
of enforcement. For example, farmers who breach regulations in
Cornwall are 15 times more likely to face prosecution than farmers
in neighbouring Devon.
In the first nine months of 2005, in this study the top three
counties for prosecutions as a percentage of cattle herds were
Cornwall (1.7%), Gloucestershire (1.47%) and Somerset (1.15%).
The three counties with least prosecutions as a percentage of cattle
herds were Staffordshire (0%), Derbyshire (0%) and Shropshire (0.04%).
Trevor Lawson, spokesman for the Badger Trust, commented: "Trading
Standards Officers will be in the front line of enforcing new rules
for the pre-movement testing of cattle for TB. But this report
shows huge inconsistencies which mean that this vital TB control
measure might not be effective. Ministers must act promptly to
ensure that all local authorities have adequate resources and clear
guidance to enforce farm animal health, welfare and transport legislation
of Cattle Health Declaration
farmers in TB damaged area must support badger
Badger Trust condemns pre-movement TB testing delays