Where Do We Go from here?

The NAIS will lead to excessive use of government enforcement measures as is happening in other countries that have implemented these types of programs. The USDA already has the Falliace sheep debacle, and the rather recent Henshaw and Davis Wild Russian Boar issue under their belts. Seeing this come in from the UK let’s you know what will happen if your papers are incorrect. the regulators at work…….

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/18/nbook18.xml

Christopher Booker’s notebook

By Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 2:37am GMT 19/03/2007

Papers were not in order, so they had to die

Of all the stories I have covered about what is now called the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, few have been more remarkable than the disaster that has just befallen David Dobbin, a 43-year-old Cheshire farmer, who derived his entire livelihood from a large dairy herd. His 567 cows, including pedigree Ayrshires and Holsteins, had won prizes, and were worth upwards of £500,0000.

In 2005 Cheshire trading standards officials, acting for Defra (one hopes Cheshire’s taxpayers do not mind officials whose salaries they pay acting for a government department) began a long series of visits, to inspect the documentation required for Mr Dobbin’s cattle under EC rules. The more they attempted to check the animals’ eight-digit ear tags against their EC “cattle passports”, the more they claimed to have found “irregularities”, although they failed to explain how many or what these were.
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Last November, on Defra’s instructions, the officials seized all Mr Dobbin’s passports, making it illegal for him to move animals off his farm and all but wiping out his income. Last month, serving him with a “notice to identify”, they removed his herd to another farm, stating that, under EC regulation 494/98, it was their intention to destroy all 567 animals.

Dating back to the BSE panic, this diktat says that “if the keeper of an animal cannot prove its identification in two working days, it shall be destroyed without delay” and “without compensation”. These powers, as I noted when the regulation was issued in 1998, were unprecedented. Nevertheless the regulation permits officials to destroy only animals that cannot be identified. Defra has never claimed that the paperwork for most of Mr Dobbin’s cows was not in order, only that the officials had found “what they believed to be an unacceptable level of non-compliance with the regulations”, and that this “could have serious implications for the protection of the human food chain”.

Less than an hour before slaughter was due to begin, Mr Dobbin’s combative Liverpool lawyer, David Kirwan, got a High Court injunction, giving the cows a stay of execution. He also won leave from Mr Justice Goldring for judicial review, on the grounds that Defra was acting beyond its powers. But this month, as the injunction expired, Defra insisted that, unless Mr Dobbin could prove the identification of every one of his animals, they must still be destroyed. Since all his passports, the most obvious means of identification, had been confiscated, this was impossible.

Defra told the court that Mr Dobbin would instead have to provide DNA identification for each animal, within two days. This would have been technically impossible, even if Defra had not moved the cows elsewhere and refused him access.

The need to proceed with the slaughter, Defra argued, was urgent, because it had no resources to look after the cattle properly, causing severe “animal welfare” problems. The judge felt he had little option but to give the go-ahead, and on March 8 and 9 the cows were destroyed.

All Mr Dobbin can now hope for is that the judicial review may confirm that Defra acted outside the law. The officials agreed in court that they had never used these powers on anything like such a scale before. It has not been claimed that Mr Dobbin’s animals posed any health risk (BSE this year is down to a single case). His only alleged offence was “non-compliance” with complex bureaucratic procedures, to an extent which Defra still cannot specify. For this he has seen his livelihood go up in smoke, without a penny in compensation.

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