The timing of the announcement in The Australian (26.03.10), by Minister Tony Bourke, to allow for voluntary vaccinations for horse flu is being questioned by Horse SA.
Active lobbying has been taking place in recent months, both for and against voluntary vaccination. Some argue for the need to protect jobs and to never have a major horse industry shut down occur again. Others argue the costs of horse owners maintaining a life-long vaccination program is a significant personal financial burden. Small horse businesses could also be affected by this announcement, with the potential for increased import & export costs.
Major horse industry leaders have been regularly meeting on the issue, and are again due to meet within the week as support appears to be growing to put in motion the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA)
"This announcement is a major “shot across the bow” for all horse owners" said Julie Fiedler, Executive Officer for Horse SA. "It is a sharp reminder that the Federal government will not spend any money on disease response for horses"
The delay in signing the EADRA is in part due to having so many national and peak horse organisations.
A number of horse organisations are yet to announce any formal decision, despite over two years of discussions since horse flu occurred in Australia.
The EADRA agreement provides surety that government will stage an emergency response for a range of identified diseases, of which horse flu is only one.
Allowing voluntary vaccination for horse flu does nothing towards supporting emergency response or management for any other type of disease incursion. The Federal Government freeze on spending on the horse industry is due to EADRA not being signed.
Linked to the EADRA agreement is a mechanism for recovering part costs for eradiation. It is this point that has proven most difficult to negotiate amongst horse organisations.
Horse SA is also seeking a response from the new South Australian Primary Industries Minister, Michael O’Brien
Horse owners are encouraged to contact their relevant national horse organisation and state primary industries Minister, to provide comment in relation to the signing of the EADRA agreement.
More information, viewpoints and links can be found on www.horsesa.asn.au
Horse SA is a not-for-profit community based organisation. The key focus areas of work include horse health, welfare and emergency response, industry & community development, horse keeping & the environment, road safety, recreational trails and community facilities.