Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (223)

Brendan Smith


223. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his proposals to assist farmers who wish to dispose of horses in view of the poor market returns for such animals at present; if he proposes to introduce a scheme for the depopulation of horses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18509/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horses identified in accordance with EU and national equine identification legislation, and accompanied by an identification document (passport) compliant with current veterinary requirements are eligible for consideration for slaughter for human consumption. In this regard, a total of 10,711 horses were slaughtered for human consumption in 2013 and up to end March 2014 a total of 2,055 have been slaughtered for human consumption. My Department has put procedures in place for dealing with horses that are not eligible for human consumption, at risk horses and or horses not in compliance with the rules on equine identification. For example, my Department can (i) facilitate the humane disposal of at-risk horses on farm by way of licensed knackeries and (ii) provide emergency funding to assist those horse owners who cannot afford to pay for their humane disposal. Farmers who are facing a critical horse welfare issue can contact my Departments helpline Lo-call 1850 211 990 for assistance. In addition, the on-going work being undertaken by local authorities, in conjunction with my Department via the Control of Horses Act, 1996 has reduced the numbers of abandoned horses throughout the country particularly in urban areas.

My Department continues to remind horse owners of the importance of compliance with equine identification and equine premises registration requirements. Furthermore it is the responsibility of horse owners to ensure the welfare of horses in their ownership and/or their care and to dispose of them appropriately. In this context, horse owners are reminded of the advice of the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council that, where an owner can no longer adequately provide for their horse or where the horse can no longer fulfil the purpose for which is was bred, he or she should dispose of the animal.