A Tyrone farmer who contested a conviction handed down in April 2023 on the back of a DAERA cattle identification inspection (CII), has had the majority of the charges quashed following an appeal.

Alan McFarland from Ballagh Road, Clogher, was originally convicted of six charges relating to alleged discrepancies around cattle identification and movement on his farm. The CII was unannounced and undertaken by officers from DAERA Welfare and Enforcement Branch back in October 2019.

In addition, Mr McFarland was convicted of one charge of obstructing a DAERA inspector, as well as failing to present veterinary medicine records and a herd register. He was fined £2,600 and given a 12-month conditional discharge on an obstruction charge.

Strenuously denied

Throughout the case, Mr McFarland had strenuously denied all the charges and was granted permission to appeal.

That process has now led to the six charges relating to cattle identification and movement being quashed. Crucially, DAERA correspondence to Mr McFarland post the CII had confirmed that the number of late notifications of cattle births, deaths or movements, as well as the number of missing cattle tags were within the tolerances set out in cross compliance rules.

“That inspection report said we were fully compliant. That argument has put this case in the bin,” Mr McFarland told the Irish Farmers Journal.

During the CII back in October 2019, a total of 14 cattle were seized by DAERA due to identification queries, and were later destroyed.

Mr McFarland confirmed that he has now started a legal process to get compensated for these cattle, which he maintains were taken off his farm using documentation that quoted repealed legislation. It is one of a number of errors made with paperwork throughout the original case.

“Another case has been initiated to recoup the illegal and unlawful slaughter of those cattle. During this we are also going to be asking for the three remaining charges to be quashed,” he said.

Mr McFarland added that he had only withdrew his appeal against these three charges so as to be able to conclude the original legal process and get insurance cover on his farm. “I have had no farm insurance since the date of the conviction. It is the only reason why I have accepted those three charges. It could put you out of business,” he maintained.

He also believes that the 2019 inspection was ultimately linked to an ongoing dispute with DAERA relating to his Single Farm Payment dating back to 2015. Agreement has now been reached and a significant proportion of the money has been paid. It is understood to be one of the highest payouts ever made by DAERA.

As well as Alan McFarland, his son Robert was convicted alongside his father in April 2023 of one charge of using an ear tag to identify an animal which had already been used to identify another animal. He was fined £500.

This conviction against Robert McFarland has also been quashed.