A decision to extend the National Equine Database’s (NED) contract until September 2012 has been welcomed by passport issuing organisations (PIOs).

Defra and PIOs will have more time to discuss what to do with the system when the government stops funding the database.

An umbrella group for PIOs — the Passport Industries Group — was set up in March after Defra threatened to take passport issuing away from breed societies (news, 20 January).

Stephanie Evans of the group said: “We need to ensure that we keep a pedigree database and the funding for breed societies that currently comes from passport issuing. We shall meet Defra next month to discuss the way forward.”

A spokesman for Defra said: “This extension will enable us to undertake a thorough review of the government’s requirements in respect of horse passports.”

It plans a consultation on horse passports with the industry before putting the database out to tender.

A spokesman for NED said: “The extended funding means we shall still be in business and able to respond to this tender.”

NED chairman Graham Suggett has now retired after three years at the helm.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (14 July, 2011)