READLYN, IA (AP)--A Sumner farmer, whose actions led to a state law banning misrepresentation in dairy cow sales, was fined Aug. 8 for selling livestock without a license.
Magistrate Stephanie Hassler fined Roger Pagel $50 plus court costs for one count of dealing livestock without a permit and bond. The charge resulted from an incident in January.
Pagel was accused of buying cows intended for slaughter at one sales barn and reselling them at another, but misrepresenting them as producing, healthy dairy cows. The practice became illegal July 1.
"This is ridiculous," said Ron Strottman, a Readlyn dairy farmer who blew the whistle on Pagel.
In January, Strottman sold a dairy cow for slaughter in Waverly for $382, which was purchased by Pagel. The cow was at the end of her milking cycle and Strottman was having trouble breeding her back for an eighth time.
Days later the cow reappeared at a sale in Manchester. She was represented as a cow who gave birth three weeks earlier and ready for milking. Strottman stopped the sale once the bid reached $700.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was notified of the incident and of two other similar cases involving Pagel. The department instructed Delaware County Assistant Attorney Rick Feeney to pursue charges, which he did in April.
"You can say we're disappointed. We had hoped for more punishment at the local level," said Ron Rowland, IDALS director of consumer protection and regulatory affairs. "If it had gone to trial and he was found guilty, he could have been fined up to $500."
Pagel entered an Alford plea of guilty Aug. 10 in Delaware County District Court three days before his trial was set to begin. The plea agreement was accepted Aug. 8.
In exchange for the plea--in which Pagel doesn't admit guilt, but feels the prosecution could have enough evidence to convict--the minimum fine was recommended by prosecutors and two similar charges were dropped. He was ordered to pay $25 in costs for each charge, plus a $15 surcharge.
Strottman led a crusade to make fraudulent cow sales illegal with stiffer penalties. A measure was passed by the Iowa Legislature last session making it illegal to falsify the status of classification of cattle on a bill of sale or health certificate and to resell cows destined for slaughter if the sales barn knows that's the intention of the original seller.
After the law took effect July 1, a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 for each animal, up to $25,000 can be imposed.
In this case, Feeney said the offenses took place before July 1 and the only action that could be taken was charging Pagel with selling without a license. Since the tougher civil penalties are now in force, dealing livestock without a license was taken off the books and is no longer a criminal offense.