Call for action on horse traceability

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called for a change in horse traceability laws, in light of recent research and the horsemeat scandal.

New research showed an increase in fly-grazing, which is the act of putting a horse out to graze, without permission, on private land, the NFU said. It added that the Horse Passport Regulations 2009 were not working and further laws should be amended to allow local authorities and the police “clear powers to act when private land-owners have horses dumped on their land”.

According to the NFU’s research, near 3,000 farmers and growers had been affected by fly-grazing in recent years. And 38% of the members who took part in the research said they had been targeted more than once by fly-grazing and reported intimidation when they challenged the horse owners.

Action plans have been developed by the NFU, which includes a change in the law and details on how police and local authorities can deal with such problems.

NFU vice-president Adam Quinney said: “We began our inquiry into the growing problem of fly-grazing last summer, long before the horsemeat scandal came to light.

“But the large numbers 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.

“The passport system has been described as shambolic, and clearly it is not effective. The government must make the changes necessary to ensure the system meets the need for traceability, while not impeding the efforts of farmers who need to get abandoned horses off their land.”

The survey revealed that fly-grazing was most widespread in the north east, followed by East Anglia, the south east and south west. It is also a serious problem in south Wales, and the NFU is working separately on the action needed to tackle that problem.


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