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Push To Vaccinate Aust Thoroughbred Crop "Intensifies"

Friday, 18th December 2009

In Australia, the "push to vaccinate the thoroughbred crop against another equine influenza outbreak is set to intensify" reported The Sydney Morning Herald. Thoroughbred Breeders Australia chief executive Peter McGauran (Liberal federal Agriculture Minister responsible for implementing the $371 million rescue & eradication package when equine influenza closed down racing for 6 months during the 2007-08 season) told the newspaper: "The recreational horse sector opposes any levy in the event there is another exotic disease outbreak. They convinced the opposition & minor parties to block federal government legislation in the Senate to establish a horse registration upon which a levy could be based. It is important to know a levy would only be paid in the event of an exotic disease outbreak such as equine influenza." McGauran explained the Federal Government had "formally notified the state governments no eradication program would be funded should another outbreak occur" & noted: "Each state government must make its own decision & commit its own funding. I doubt the stars will ever align again to convince a federal government to bail out an equine influenza-devastated racing industry." McGauran said there is "support in NSW & Queensland among government members for the thoroughbred industry to vaccinate", while the Victorians "seem to be holding to an anti-vaccination position". McGauran summed up: "One day in the future, whether it is 5 or 10 years, there will be another breach of the quarantine barrier. Quarantine is a human institution & humans make mistakes." While any vaccination must be approved by the Federal Government, McGauran is confident it is "leaning towards" such a step & added: "The situation is quite fluid at the moment. For the first time, there is a strong possibility thoroughbreds will be allowed to vaccinate against EI, given EI will never be fought again in this country. The Federal Government has told the states you are on your own & the states do not have the financial resources to eradicate EI. We (Thoroughbred Breeders Australia) have a policy of supporting vaccination as does the Australian Racing Board. I am disturbed the recreational section opposed the horse disease levy, but given they have now played the politics of the legislation & defeated it, they surely can't stand in the way of the thoroughbred sector with its massive economic interest at stake. We can never again go through an outbreak of equine influenza. The horse industry is the only livestock industry in Australia without a signed agreement with the Federal Government for both to contribute in the event of a disease outbreak. Whether it be cattle, sheep, chickens or pigs, everyone has such an agreement." Vaccination costs $120-150 per horse & McGauran concluded: "It includes 1 shot & 2 boosters. Without exception breeders, owners & trainers will gladly pay $150 to guarantee the industry can continue through a future outbreak of EI." (Jun 23)

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