A father and son have been convicted of ten charges relating to TB fraud, animal welfare and cattle identification in Northern Ireland.
False TB claims have put the reputation of the entire industry at risk and were an ‘insult’ to farmers whose herds actually have the disease.
The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has hit out at the ‘selfish acts of a few unscrupulous individuals’ after a father and son from County Tyrone were convicted of ten charges connected to TB fraud, animal welfare and cattle identification last week (October 1).
Mark Girvan, aged 47, from Limehill Road, Pomeroy was convicted at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court of one charge of dishonestly making a false representation at a TB test in respect of 14 reactor cattle, two charges of trying to affect the results of a TB test, one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to 14 cattle, one charge of failing to present animals for TB testing, two charges of failing to notify the department of the births of bovine animals.
He received a 12 months custodial sentence suspended for two years and was fined £200 plus £15 Offenders levy.
He was also disqualified from keeping all animals except a family pet for a period of 10 years.
His son Anthony Girvan, also of Limehill Road, Pomeroy was convicted at the same court of one charge of failing to present animals for TB testing and two charges of failing to notify the department of the births of bovine animals.
He was fined £450 plus £15 Offenders levy.
The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) for Northern Ireland said the case had arose from discrepancies found during a tuberculosis test and a follow up investigation carried out by officers from Daera’s Welfare and Enforcement Branch.
UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said these ‘selfish acts’ put the reputation of the whole industry at risk.
“Taking actions to make it look like an animal has TB when it doesn’t is completely unacceptable.
“It is an insult to the farmers whose herds actually have the disease and the stress and strain they have endured as a result.”
“Bovine tuberculosis is the scourge of the countryside and it is a very real and expensive problem on farms.
He added they did not believe the case to be reflective of the wider industry and the vast majority of farmers would ‘never entertain such behaviour’.
UFU said it would support action for more robust penalties to maintain public confidence and to protect the integrity of the eradication programme.
“We want to work with DAERA on this to ensure no one is getting TB compensation unlawfully.
“We won’t let the actions of a few undermine the collective efforts of the industry to tackle this awful disease.
“I hope this conviction acts as a deterrent for anyone considering this kind of abhorrent behaviour,” he said.