27 Jan 2015

Horse industry signs biosecurity agreement

6:11 am on 27 January 2015

The equine sector is the latest to sign a biosecurity agreement with the Government, joining the kiwifruit, pipfruit and pork industries.

The agreement commits horse racing, recreational and breeding organisations to work in a partnership with the Primary Industries Ministry to manage and respond to disease threats.

The New Zealand Equine Health Association representing all horse interests, signed the agreement at the Karaka yearling sales yesterday.

The association's chairman Ivan Bridge said the most serious disease threat for the industry would be equine influenza.

"We are at present the only country in the world with a significant equine population who have never been exposed to equine influenza and that is the number one priority.

"But there are obviously other diseases and probably diseases that with the change of climate etcetera will affect the changes that will become more significant as time goes by."

Dr Bridge said an outbreak of equine influenza would be just as destructive as foot and mouth disease in the livestock industry.

"It would be like fire going through the ranges if it ever arrived here, we would immediately go into shut down, there would be no horse racing, there'd be no horse shows, there would be no pony club activity, if it happened during the breeding season there'd be no movement of horses from studs, there would be no breeding.

"We particularly want to keep it out because the cost of living with it is greater than the cost of removing it if you do get it."

Ivan Bridge said it cost more than a hundred million dollars to eradicate the disease from Australia when it broke out there in 2007.