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Pair fined for cattle tracing breaches

Pair fined for cattle tracing breaches

Hefty fines for two farmers caught not meeting cattle tracing requirements, including at a property in the mycoplasma bovis “red zone”, should act as a deterrent for others in the industry, a judge says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) charged the pair after they failed to meet the requirements of the National Identification and Tracing Act (NAIT).

The act requires people in charge of cattle and deer to register as a Person in Charge of Animals (PICA), to register land where the animals are kept as a NAIT location, to register animals with NAIT, and to record movements of the animals on- or off-farm.

Joel Charles Townshend, 39, was charged with failing to register as PICA for a Wakanui dryland block when he took over the lease on April 1, 2022.

He was also charged for failing to register the movement of 1154 animals onto the property between May and October 2022. The cattle on the property were registered to 20 different locations.

The leased land was in a mycoplasma bovis "red zone" being next to a farm that had tested positive for the infectious cattle disease.

The cattle were found to be infected with M.bovis during six-monthly testing in September and had to be killed.

Keith Bruce Townshend, 69, runs farming operations in Ashburton Forks and Akaroa. He was charged with failing to register sending 798 cattle from Akaroa to Ashburton in 14 truck movements between April and November 2022.

He was also charged with not recording receiving 1034 cattle sent in 11 shipments from Ashburton to Akaroa.

According to the summary of facts, Keith had received letters from MPI and Ospri in March 2021 to remind him of his obligations to record the movement of animals.

Judge Campbell Savage said the offences were committed after the penalty for NAIT breaches increased from a maximum of $10,000 to $100,000. The increase was an indication of how seriously Parliament viewed the need to maintain biosecurity.

The two aggravating factors were the high number of cattle moved - and in Joel's case, the "very high and genuine biosecurity risk being adjacent to an M.bovis farm in the high-risk red zone area."

Judge Savage said the starting point for sentencing for Joel was a $50,000 fine but arrived at a final fine of $27,500 after applying discounts.

Keith was fined $20,000.

Judge Savage said the movements were within the Townshend farms, which mitigated the biosecurity risk.

He said fines in the tens of thousands for the failure to comply with NAIT would "encourage everyone else in the industry" to comply with the animal movement regulations.

By Sharon Davis