Britain’s racing industry has today welcomed the Government’s announcement that a new England Partnership Board originally proposed by the equine sector will be created to transform the way decisions are made on animal health and welfare.
Whilst giving its firm backing to the new Board, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has stated that the new system can only be successful in tackling animal disease if Ministers ensure that the equine sector is well represented.
Indeed, the British Horse Industry Confederation (BHIC), led by the BHA, had originally proposed the creation of such a board, embedded within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in the early stages of the Government’s consultation process.
The Board will be responsible for key decisions affecting the health and welfare of over 1 million horses in England and will have a significant impact on the UK’s equine sector, which has a combined economic footprint of £7bn, 50% of which derives from racing.
As set out in the Government’s response to the Final Report of the Responsibility and Cost Sharing Advisory Group, the Board will ensure that responsibility for decisions on animal health and welfare is fully shared between Government, industry and animal owners.
The move towards partnership working contrasts with previous proposals to introduce a centralised ‘horse tax’, which the equine sector strongly opposed on the grounds that it would have raised costs, produced no benefits, and failed to recognise the contribution to responsibility and cost sharing already being made by the sector.
Professor Tim Morris, the BHA’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, who represented the equine sector on the Independent Responsibility and Cost Sharing Advisory Group, said:
“The new Board will need to be able to call on a broad range of expertise and skills from its members in order to be effective in tackling disease, which is what we all want to see.
“In order to effectively meet the challenges of preventing and managing animal disease in the future it’s absolutely vital that the Board includes at least one member with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the horse sector, which in many ways is in a unique position.
“We believe that the partnership approach set out today is a positive step towards reducing the risk of disease for racehorses, so it’s very important that the racing and wider equine community is able to make a full contribution.”