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Pembrokeshire livestock owner convicted of animal welfare offences

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Animals experienced ‘a large amount of suffering over a period of time’ according to District Judge Chris James at the prosecution of Richard Scarfe at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on 26 January by Pembrokeshire County Council.

Scarfe, of Park Street, Pembroke Dock, pleaded guilty to offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 by causing unnecessary suffering to animals at Highland View Fold, The Ridgeway, Lamphey, and failing them in his duty of care.

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There were additional guilty pleas in relation to Cattle, Sheep and Pig Identification and Animal By-Products offences and obstructing authorised officers whilst carrying out their duty under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Animal Health and Welfare team began investigating complaints on land at Highland View Fold in late 2019, offering Scarfe advice on animal husbandry and record keeping. 

When officers visited the holding on the Ridgeway at Lamphey, they were shocked and appalled at the conditions of the fields and the accommodation for the animals.

Serious concerns were raised about the conditions the animals were kept (Image: Pembrokeshire Council)

The land was heavily poached and the grazing poor due to overstocking. During their visits officers noted that stock were without drinking water and feed and that bedding was heavily soiled leaving the animals with no clean dry lying area. 

A vet who attended the land raised serious concerns over the poor body condition of the animals and condition scored the livestock from 1 to 2.5. Body conditions are scored from 1 (emaciated) to 5 (obese.)

On several occasions, animal carcasses were seen in varying stages of decomposition in fields where other livestock could access them.

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The poor conditions of the land at Scarfe’s farm (Image: Pembrokeshire Council)

In early 2021 following these serious failings under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, Animal By Products Regulations and other animal identification non compliances on the holding, the County Council’s Animal Health and Welfare team sought an order under the act to seize and remove livestock from the holding to prevent further suffering.

Scarfe had been given guidance and support by Pembrokeshire County Council Animal Health team along with professional veterinary advice, to which he had total disregard. 

Summing up, District Judge Chris James said: “There was high culpability of prolonged neglect motivated by Mr Scarfe. The care provided had been wholly neglectful with levels of incompetence.

“The multiple number of animals in this case seen graphically by photographs are serious. Greater harm has been met and as a result, a number of animals have died. There has been a large amount of suffering over a period of time.

“You were given numerous opportunities to address these issues and failed to comply fully. Only when court enforcement began, you began to take this seriously.

“The fact that you thought you did your best is not enough. You have not followed advice when you have been under scrutiny.”

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Mr Scarfe was disqualified from keeping cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and donkeys for a total of five years. In addition, he was given a community service order of 240 hours and a 14-week custodial sentence, suspended for 2 years.

Costs were awarded to Pembrokeshire County Council.

Cllr Cris Tomos, Pembrokeshire CouncilCabinet Member for the Environment and Welsh Language, said: “This was a deeply distressing case. Despite being given guidance and support by our Animal Welfare team, Mr Scarfe demonstrated a complete lack of care towards the animals in his ownership.

He added: “We will always strive to work with livestock owners when we are notified of concerns, but we will always prosecute in cases of neglect.

“We are satisfied with the judge’s decision.”

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(Lead image: Pembrokeshire Council)

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Farming

Tractor queues could lead to penalty points

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A warning for farmers this Easter Bank holiday weekend as police will be on the look-out for long queues disrupting the holiday traffic.

Leading farm vehicle insurance firmQuotezone.co.uk, which compares insurance quotes for farmers, says police forces will be especially aware of the Highway Code’s Rule 169 this weekend, as record crowds could be headed for their country road trip.

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Rule 169 says road users must not create or hold up a long queue of traffic; the rule pays special attention to those driving a large or slow-moving vehicle – potentially making tractor drivers high on the list to gain police attention.

Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk, says holding up more than six cars could risk 3-9 points on a driving licence, and a fine of up to £5,000.

He comments: “Traffic jams could be more numerous and longer as holidaymakers avoid foreign trips due to the chaos and cancellation at airports and ports – with the addition of mass rail engineering works ruling out alternative transport closer to home.”

If tractor drivers find they are creating queues, the Highway Code and police forces advise that they pull over, where safe, and allow traffic to overtake, as frustration can lead to dangerous manoeuvres to try and bypass farm vehicles.

The police will also be looking at motorists with caravans, trailers and horse boxes who will need to be conscious of how their driving is affecting other road users. Sensible measures such as checking mirrors, and showing reasonable consideration for other road users should avoid prosecutions.

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Greg Wilson continues: “Farmers are incredibly busy and it’s not always possible to pull over but it’s really important to be as safe as possible on the roads and also safeguard finances. 

“Penalty points could see insurance premiums increase by as much as 25% for 6 points – given tractor insurance can be rather expensive, it isn’t worth the financial risk or potentially losing a driving licence if the new penalties push total points to more than 12.”  

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UK Government

Farming union hits out over Welsh and UK Government’s lack of engagement on Ukraine supply chain crisis

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The Farmers’ Union of Wales has, for a second time, written to the Welsh Government urging them to instigate actions within their control to alleviate some of the pressures of the Ukraine war on Welsh farmers and consumers.

In response to the initial letter sent to the Welsh Government on 4th March 2022, in which the Union requested a roundtable meeting with them and other stakeholders to discuss such issues and possible actions, the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd stated that the Welsh Government did not believe such a meeting was appropriate.

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FUW President, Glyn Roberts
(Image: FUW)

In his letter of reply, FUW President Glyn Roberts said: “We are acutely concerned at the failure of both the Welsh and UK Governments to engage with the supply chain early on in order to explore immediate actions that will help mitigate problems that are having an impact now, and will continue to do so for the remainder of the year and at least into 2023.

“Such impacts are affecting and will continue to affect not only farmers, but also consumers, and this is therefore an issue not only for the food and farming industry but also for the Welsh and UK population as a whole.”

Mr Roberts also highlighted the need for the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group on which the Welsh Government sits to take a more proactive approach and share information in a more timely manner, stating:

“It is worth noting that the last set of minutes published on the UK Government website relates to a meeting held on 8th February 2022, many weeks before Russia’s attack on Ukraine.”

“I know you will be aware of the impacts being reported across the supply chain, whether in terms of cooking oil, fuel, feed or fertiliser, and predicted shortages, for example of eggs, and we fully appreciate that with regard to many of these there is little if anything that the Welsh Government can do,” wrote Mr Roberts.

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“However, there certainly are actions that can be instigated by the Welsh Government to alleviate some pressures for Welsh farmers which will benefit consumers over the coming months and years, and while these may be limited we believe it is incumbent upon the Welsh Government to act now in order to do what it can to assist farmers, food producers and consumers,” he added.

(Lead image: FUW)

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Search for Pembrokeshire’s top progressive farmers for new award

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Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society are looking for the county’s top progressive farmers for a new award to be presented at the Pembrokeshire County Show.

If you farm in Pembrokeshire, are under the age of 45, and can demonstrate your farm’s use of the latest technological methods to promote progressive, sustainable agriculture then the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society encourage you to enter the prestigious Baron de Rutzen Award.

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The de Rutzen family have had a considerable influence in Pembrokeshire through their agricultural estates and diverse businesses interests over many years. Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society gratefully acknowledges the generosity of J H Llewellin & family, of Kilbarth, Rudbaxton, Haverfordwest, for kindly re-presenting the Baron de Rutzen Trophy to the Society this year.

Baron John Fredrick De Rutzen was President of Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society in 1936 and the Baron de Rutzen Trophy was produced in his memory. The third Baron served in the Welsh Guards and tragically died, aged 36, in 1944.

Stephen James, the outgoing Pembrokeshire County Show President launched the 2022 Baron De Rutzen Award in the recent AGM of the Agricultural Society.

He said, “We are grateful to the Llewellin family for donating us this hugely significant trophy and we want to present it this year to a local farmer who can demonstrate their farm’s use of the latest technological methods to promote progressive, sustainable agriculture.

“They also need to show consideration for the environment and habitat sensitivity on their farm as well as present an aesthetically pleasing example of farming in Pembrokeshire.”

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The entrant must be a fully practising farmer within the county of Pembrokeshire and was under the age of 45 years on 1 January 2022.

Entries can either be by nomination or direct application online on the Pembrokeshire Agricultural Society website.

The closing date for nominations and applications is at noon on Sunday, 15 May 2022.

Pembrokeshire County Show, the largest agricultural show in Wales, is going ahead this year, over two days, and everyone is invited to attend the event which is a celebration of rural life in the county.

The last full-scale show was held in 2019 followed by a virtual event in 2020 and a scaled down version in 2021 for animals and members only.

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This year’s Show President, Mansel Raymond, admits that the past couple of years have been a struggle for the Society.

He said, “We have been looking forward, with hope, to 2022 when we could bring back the show you all know and love.

“Agricultural shows in Pembrokeshire have existed for over 200 years and they provide an opportunity for farmers and local businesses to exhibit livestock, goods and services.

“They are also important however for well-being, it is the place where we meet friends and family and discuss challenges with various experts that normally attend.”

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