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Minister launches draft passport legislation at National Equine Forum

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael chose last week’s prestigious National Equine Forum, attended by HRH The Princess Royal, to launch the draft legislation on the requirement for equine passports.

Speaking at the Forum on ‘a government overview of the horse industry’, Mr Michael summarised the draft legislation, which in line with the European Commission Decision 2000/68/EC, requires all equines in the UK to have a passport by 31 December 2003. He emphasised that there would be a three-month consultation period until 30th June, during which key equestrian organisations were invited to submit comments, before the document was finalised. Some sections of the draft gave a number of the 150 Forum attendees cause for concern. Noted as particularly worrying were the system of equine identification proposed which was seen to have shortfalls and also the compulsory and permanent passport declaration on whether or not horses were destined for entry into the food chain, which gave no flexibility for amendment should the horse enter new ownership.

A highlight of the Forum was a perceptive presentation on the need to recruit, retain and recognise the worth of world-class grooms, from former international dressage groom, Lucy Katan. Lucy, who is now employed by The Blue Cross animal welfare charity, sparked an animated and supportive debate among the audience with her forthright recommendation that grooms should be treated as vital support staff within the World Class programme and with the respect and conditions they deserve.

The National Equine Forum is the only independent conference for the horse world in the UK. It was founded in 1993 to provide an annual opportunity for communication in both directions between the grass roots administration of the horse world and those that influence decision making in government, industry and research in relation to horses and ponies.


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