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NFU calls for better horse traceability
1:00pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in Farming
THE NFU has demanded a change in laws to improve the traceability of horses.
The call follows the horse meat scandal and a rise in flygrazing – a practice where horses are dumped on other people’s land to graze.
It has questioned where the horses go when the owners collect them, possibly across borders or into abattoirs using forged passports.
It said current horse passport regulations are not working and wants further laws amended to give local authorities and the police the power to tackle such incidents.
An NFU survey found around 3,000 of its members had been affected by fly-grazing. The North-East was the most affected area, followed by East Anglia, the South East and South West.
Often when farmers and landowners have challenged the owners they have been threatened with violence and arson.
Adam Quinney, NFU vice president, said they began investigating the practice last summer, long before the horse meat scandal came to light.
“But the large number of horses being dumped on farmland must be going somewhere when their owners collect them, and it is certainly possible that a lot of them are being moved across borders and into abattoirs using forged passports,” he said.
“The passport system has been described as shambolic, and clearly it is not effective.
“The Government must make the changes necessary to ensure that the system meets the need for traceability while not impeding the efforts of farmers who need to get abandoned horses off their land.”
The NFU has developed an action plan which includes changes in the law, details on how police and local authorities can deal with the problem effectively, and how the insurance industry can help.
Earlier in the week Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, said it was “wholly unacceptable” for people to buy products labelled beef which turn out to be horse meat.
The Food Standards Agency will publish further product test results today.
Of 2,501 tested last week 29 samples from seven products had one per cent or more horse meat in them.