Australian horse deal provides certainty - minister

October 21, 2011

The Australian horse industry and government now have financial certainty in the event of future exotic disease incursions, federal agriculture minister Joe Ludwig said this week.

Ludwig was commenting following the granting of Royal Assent to the Horse Disease Response Levy Bills.

National emergency response arrangements are now in place for disease threats to Australia's livestock industries under the provisions of the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement, which commenced in March 2002.

Four peak horse industry representative bodies - the Australian Horse Industry Council, Harness Racing Australia, the Australian Racing Board and Equestrian Australia - signed the deal on behalf of the horse industry on March 3, 2011.

The agreement sets out roles and responsibilities and cost-sharing arrangements between government and industry in an emergency disease response.

"This will provide the horse industry with a funding mechanism to repay the Commonwealth for monies expended on its behalf in responding to an outbreak of an emergency animal disease affecting horses," Ludwig said.

"The legislation provides arrangements for governments and the horse industry to effectively and efficiently fund a quick, co-ordinated response to an emergency horse disease outbreak.

"This is critical to maintaining Australia's agricultural production and exports, as well as the environment and public health.

"Livestock industries receive considerable benefits from emergency disease eradication in terms of trade and market access, and through minimisation of livestock losses and production costs."

Ludwig said the legislation had been requested by the horse industry so that it can fulfil its obligations as a signatory to the agreement.

The new laws will provide the mechanisms to collect levies on manufactured horse feed and worm treatments for horses if they are needed.

"These bills were introduced to simultaneously apply a levy on worm treatments for horses and manufactured horse feed and would provide an appropriate coverage of the industry," he said.

Levies will be payable on the disposal of manufactured horse feed and worm treatments for horses from one party to another and be appropriated through Animal Health Australia.

Ludwig said the levy will be set at a zero rate, but the legislation allows for regulations to be made to set a positive rate when required.