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Quarantine Fees Threaten Horse Imports
With the Australian thoroughbred community still counting the cost of equine influenza, there is a new economic threat to the industry: "sky-rocketing quarantine and freight costs stemming from the 2007 horse flu outbreak." Thoroughbred Breeders Australia CEO Peter McGauran told Sydney's ABC 702 radio station that, "The 2007 outbreak forced the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) to spend millions upgrading its quarantine stations." The knock-on effect is that "daily quarantine fees have risen from $64 to $290 a day, and could be as much as $500 if horse numbers are down." McGauran, a former federal minister for Agriculture in the Howard government, brings a unique perspective to his current role, having worked closely with the Australian equine industry during the EI crisis. He notes: "This is a very serious issue. Since the outbreak of equine influenza, AQIS has moved to full cost recovery. They are not just thoroughbreds... but also all horses, the full cost of their treatment, so the cost of importation has risen exponentially." The runaway quarantine expenses could act as a major deterrent to the importation of broodmares into Australia, and could put the brakes on bringing shuttle stallions in that are not at the highest end of the commercial spectrum. McGauran said that, "while the price hikes are concerning, at least the quarantine service has lifted its game," and also stated: "The Eastern Creek facility, from which EI so negligently and even criminally negligently escaped in 2007, has been turned into Fort Knox." Watch this space.