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Norfolk farmer fines over animal feed

PUBLISHED: 18:00 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:47 02 July 2010

A farmer has been fined over animal feed.

A farmer has been fined over animal feed.

A south Norfolk farmer has been hit with court fines and costs of almost £10,000 after admitting feeding banned animal protein to cattle and pigs, and failing to keep up-to-date records.

A south Norfolk farmer has been hit with court fines and costs of almost £10,000 after admitting feeding banned animal protein to cattle and pigs, and failing to keep up-to-date records.

Tony Cushion, 57, pleaded guilty to two charges of feeding dog biscuits containing animal protein to his animals, one charge of failing to identify his supplier and three charges of failing to maintain proper records, when he appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court yesterday.

The court heard the case was so serious it had been brought to the attention of then food minister Hilary Benn.

Fifteen cattle belonging to Cushion, from Owens Close, Long Stratton, who runs Old Chapel Farm in Tasburgh, had to be slaughtered to prevent contaminated food entering the human food chain, and another 15 of his cattle had “vanished”, the court heard.

After the case, Andy McArdle, from Norfolk Trading Standards, who also prosecuted the case, said: “The fine demonstrates the seriousness of the case and the fact it was brought to the attention of a government minister.”

Earlier, Mr McArdle told the court the laws governing animal feed were brought in following the outbreaks of (BSE) bovine spongiform encephalopathy and its human variant, CJD, in previous decades.

Trading standards officers visited Cushion's farm last July and a sample of the dog food fed to the animals was found to contain animal bone and muscle. In explanation, Cushion said the dog food he fed his animals had been refused by his partner's pets, he said.

Officers seized 97 cattle passports - containing the histories of each animal owned by Cushion - from his home and found that 15 of the 97 animals could not be traced. It was so serious that it was brought to the attention of Mr Benn, said Mr McArdle.

In mitigation, Tim Carey said Cushion was a small farmer, who was trying to make a living in tough times.

Chairman of the bench Steve Gunner warned Cushion he could have been fined £30,000 - £5,000 for each of the six offences - but instead fined him £1,500 for each, totalling £9,000. He also ordered him to pay £921.50 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

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