Horse disease breakthrough

1Leading Australian horse racing authorities have united in an effort to combat the spread of disease in the equine industry.

The Australian Racing Board, Harness Racing Australia, Australian Horse Industry Council and Equestrian Australia this week agreed to support the Federal Government’s Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement.

Australian Racing Board chief executive Andrew Harding said the plan brought the horse industry together in a manner never seen before.

“We’ve been working for a decade now to ensure that the horse industry would be part of the EADRA,” he said.

“The Australian arrangement is the best in the world for dealing with disease outbreaks.”

Animal Health Australia chief executive Mike Bond said the united front showed the importance of tackling equine diseases promptly.

“The amazing thing for me is these diverse and often dis-united organisations that barely spoke at times have come together to agree to something for the benefit of the whole industry,” he said.

Australian Horse Industry Council president Roger Lavelle said the agreement had “many benefits”.

“The thing we wanted was a guaranteed government response, and this agreement has given us that,” he said.

Under the plan, the Federal Government would initially foot the bill for any emergency response, with the amount of money paid back by the industry determined by the particular disease involved, and raised by a levy on horse owners.

Mr Bond said there were 65 diseases listed under the EADRA, with almost a third affecting the equine industry.

“It really is a culmination of about 12 years of work and attempts to get the horse industry protected in the same way other major industries are,” he said.

The four bodies will sign the arrangement next month.