Australians Want Foot-and-Mouth Ban Lifted

Hunter Valley Thoroughbred breeders are increasingly concerned regarding a continuing ban on Thoroughbred imports from Europe imposed by the Australian quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) as a result of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Europe.

The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) will seek communication with federal agriculture minister Warren Truss and AQIS officials in a bid to clarify the situation that currently prevents stallions based in England, Ireland, and the rest of Europe from entering Australia to complete dual season breeding duties there.

HTBA president Antony Thompson said there was an ongoing perception horses could carry or contract foot-and-mouth disease when that was not the case, as the disease only affects cloven-hooved animals.

"Providing strict quarantine protocols are adhered to, there is negligible risk associated with bringing horses from Europe to Australia," he said. "We would like AQIS and the relevant authorities to consider lifting the ban and implementing the same quarantine protocols as those adopted by the United States department of agriculture."

The Irish government last week lifted restrictions imposed due to foot-and-mouth on horses traveling between Ireland and Britain, clearing the way for British runners at the Curragh's Irish Guineas meeting May 26-27, although a precautionary quarantine and disinfection policy will be implemented.

The Japanese ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries also eased restrictions on the importation of horses from European countries subject to certain qualifications being met. New Zealand had declined to impose the same ban as Australia and the United State has continued to allow imports after introducing extra quarantine measures.