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BEF Submission On Passports To DEFRA Recommends Changes In Interests Of Welfare And Utility

The BEF Equine Passport, Disease Surveillance and Breeding Implementation Planning Team submission to DEFRA in response to the invitation to comment on the draft Statutory Instrument 2003 - The Horse Passport (England) Order 2003 and other documents, will be sent to the Minister today (6 June).

The Team has consulted widely with representatives of the industry and has aimed to work in the best interests of horse owners, given that the legislation is to be implemented. The submission contains recommendations that will seek to keep implementation within the spirit of the Commission Directive, whilst also working in the best interests of welfare and utility.

Key recommendations include;

§ The declaration of whether a horse is intended for the human food chain (section IX) should not be signed until a veterinary surgeon prescribes a controlled drug at which point the declaration will have to be signed as "not intended for slaughter for human consumption".

§ Existing passports without section IX should not be recalled but any horse presented for slaughter for human consumption without a completed Section IX in its passport will not be accepted at the abattoir.

§ Native semi-feral ponies listed in common land grazing registers should be granted the same exemptions, where they are kept under the same circumstances, as horses recorded in the lists of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, Dartmoor Commoners Council, Exmoor Pony Society, Fell Pony Society and Dales Pony Society.

§ A horse shall not require a passport until the 31st of December of the year in which it was born unless it permanently leaves the premises on which its dam is normally domiciled.

§ The legal standing of veterinary surgeons to be clarified when giving emergency treatment in a situation where a passport is not produced or a passport is produced without a Section IX.

The Team have taken this opportunity to draw DEFRA's attention to the potential difficulties facing owners seeking to make an appropriate disposal of an animal or carcase. They also warn against the danger of further fragmentation which would be counterproductive for an industry which is starting to act in a cohesive and uniform manner, if the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly produce different interpretations of the EU Commission Decision.

The full text of the submission has been placed on the BEF web site in sufficient time for interested parties to review it and pass further comment directly to DEFRA before their deadline of 30 June.


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