Government publishes details of new animal health body

  • The Government has published its plans for an independent “Animal Health Organisation” to change the way animal disease risks and outbreaks are handled.

    The draft Animal Health Bill , released on Monday, sets out formal plans for the responsibility and cost-sharing policy — also dubbed the “horse tax” — that caused such furore last year.

    But while the draft bill covers disease measures and the establishment of the non-departmental public body, decisions on the cost of the tax to animal and horse owners have not been announced.

    Defra says it will be introduced “under a future Finance Bill”.

    More than 10,000 people have so far signed a petition asking Defra to scrap horse tax.

    Campaigners have been logging on to the 10 Downing Street website since September to have their say on the proposals, which would affect every horse owner in the country.

    Chairman of the British Horse Industry Confederation, Professor Tim Morris, said: “The horse sector has said it will work with the government to achieve the benefits of reduced risk of disease and enhanced animal welfare.

    “We have a long history of sharing responsibility and costs for disease with Defra.

    “But all we are seeing is the extra cost and complexity of an expensive new quango, which will be an unnecessary burden to both the taxpayer and horse owner, with none of these benefits.”

    • H&H will publish a full story on the implications and what it means for the horse industry in our 4 February issue

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