CFIA withdraws $6,000 penalty against Sackville farmer in calf’s death

Home surveillance video shows calf tumbling on road after falling from passing trailer on Dec. 30, 2020

Newly released documents from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) show that a $6,000 penalty against Sackville farmer Keith Carter was withdrawn last November about a month before the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal was scheduled to review it.

The CFIA originally notified Carter on May 16, 2021 that he had violated regulations governing the safe transport of animals after a year-old calf weighing 650-700 pounds fell from the back of a trailer in front of houses on Cape Road in Dorchester.

Home surveillance video, included in the CFIA’s case brief and exhibits, shows a white pickup truck hauling a trailer passing by as the calf tumbles behind it on December 30th, 2020.

The documents, released in response to a federal access to information request, state that the truck driven by Farrah Carter stopped and that her father, Keith Carter, bled the calf out on the road to save the meat.

Photo shows blood on road after Keith Carter cut the calf’s throat to bleed it out

During an interview with Warktimes the next day, Carter admitted he was at fault.

“I forgot to put a pin in the tail gate. It was just an accident. I didn’t plan on a thousand dollar calf falling out of the back of the truck,” he said.

The CFIA also served Farrah Carter with a notice of violation warning, without any monetary penalty.

The documents show that both Carters asked for a review, but Farrah later withdrew her request.

Sharp internal discord

A heavily redacted CFIA summary of the case shows how the notice of violation and the $6,000 penalty came to be withdrawn a little over a month before the independent Canada  Agricultural Review Tribunal (CART) was scheduled to hear testimony during its review on December 14, 2022.

In a section labelled “Atlantic Area Record of Decision,” the summary refers to what appear to be heated internal disagreements and debates.

The CFIA document notes that the Lead Investigator, who isn’t named, recommended taking no action and simply closing the file on March 25, 2021.

The Acting Manager, also not named, disagreed and after “lengthy and contradicting exchanges” between them, the Lead Investigator “asked to recuse himself from the file; the Acting Manager accepted the recusal and took over ownership and responsibility for the file.”

But their disagreements didn’t end there.

“Multiple inconsistencies and conflicting opinions were exchanged between the Lead Investigator and the Acting Manager over the span of two months,” the summary says.

As the disagreements continued, the Lead Investigator and his Assisting Investigator served notice that they would attend the Tribunal hearing and ask to testify.

This means that the risks and uncertainties associated with oral testimony would be present if this matter proceeds,” the summary notes.

Apparently acting on the advice of a CFIA lawyer (which is redacted), Al Goguen, Manager of Enforcement and Investigation Services in the Atlantic region decided to recommend withdrawal of the notice of violation and $6,000 penalty against Keith Carter.

“Given the risks and issues listed above,” Goguen wrote, “we recommend that the Notice of Violation with Penalty issued to the individual of concern be withdrawn. As such, there will be no hearing on December 14, 2022 before the CART.”

To read the redacted Atlantic Area Record of Decision, click here.

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