Laws must be changed to improve the traceability of horses amid new research showing an increase in fly-grazing and the recent horse meat scandal, the NFU said today.
The NFU believes the Horse Passport Regulations (2009) are not working and that further laws should also be amended to give local authorities and police clear powers to act when private land owners have horses dumped on their land.
A survey by the NFU has revealed that around 3,000 farmer and grower members have been affected by fly-grazing in recent years. Alarmingly, 38 per cent of survey respondents said they had been targeted more than once and they listed a number of intimidation tactics when they challenged horse owners, including threats of violence and arson.
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 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, as well as details on how police and local authorities can deal with the problem effectively and appropriately, as well as support from the insurance industry and how the NFU can help its members.
The survey revealed that fly-grazing was most widespread in the North East, followed by East Anglia, 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.