Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Premises registration is now the law

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

With the show season now in full swing, many equestrian competitors and producers will have noticed a new question on entry forms for competitions, asking owners for their equine premises registration number.

In February of this year, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney signed into law a new order requiring anyone who is the owner or person in charge of any premises in which equines such as horses, donkeys, ponies, asses or mules are kept to register their premises with the Department of Agriculture.

So far, however, only 7,000 premises have been registered.

The Department has issued a warning that it is against the law to have horses on any land or premises that is unregistered and it is not possible to register a horse, obtain a passport or have a horse slaughtered for human consumption unless the premises where the horse is kept is registered.

So what exactly is involved in this new law and who does it apply to?

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the law.

Q. What is an equine premises?

A. This means any premises (with or without land) in which equines are kept, either on a full-time 'permanent' basis (farms) or an enterprise (such as shows, sales, gymkhanas, racecourses, hunts, veterinary hospitals, farriers, pounds, studs and fairs) to or from which equine movements take place.

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Q. What is the purpose of registration?

A. Registration and record keeping will enable the Department to have information on the location of horses and their contacts with other horses so that, in the event of a disease outbreak, owners can be identified and advised of any necessary precautions. A disease outbreak (such as equine infectious anemia) in the national equine herd could have a catastrophic effect on the national equine industry, which makes a major contribution to the national economy. By registering your location with the Department, you are making your contribution to protecting the national equine herd.

Q. Who must register?

A. Anyone who owns or has charge of a premises (including land) on which there are equine, regardless of whether he or she owns the equines, the premises or the land.

Q. What are the consequences if I decide not to register my premises?

A. Since it is a legal requirement that premises where equines are kept be registered with the Department, you may be prosecuted. Also, if you don't register your premises, you will not be able to register your horse, obtain a passport or have your horse slaughtered for human consumption.

Q. Is there a fee?

A. No, registration is free of charge. The purpose of registration is simply to enable the Department to have information on locations of horses and their contacts.

Q. Is registration an annual requirement?

A. No, registration is a once-off. The Department should be notified if the owner or person in charge changes or the premises is no longer used to keep equines so that the details on the register can be changed.

Q. What responsibilities will a registered person have?

A. Registered persons must keep records of the equines on the premises and the movement of equines off and on to the premises.

The extent of record keeping will depend on the nature of the business at the premises. For example, owners of premises where a pet pony is kept will simply have to keep a record of the pony initially.

Thereafter, any births and purchases, deaths and sales or other permanent movements off or on to the premises will need to be recorded. People in charge of enterprises such as stud farms, shows, sales where horses from different premises are congregated or gathered will have to keep more extensive records, details of which are available on the Department website, www.agriculture.gov.ie.

Q. My horses are all identified with a microchip and horse passports. Is this not enough?

A. No. These are separate systems. The horse passport regime is an animal identification system rather than a movement system.

The premises registration concerns the location at which equines are kept and records in respect of horses on those premises for the purposes of trace back in the event of a disease outbreak. You will not be able to register your horse, obtain a passport or have your horse slaughtered for human consumption unless you have registered your premises.

Q I have a bovine herd number. Will I get a different herd number for horses?

A. No, unless the nominated equine keeper is different from the person who is registered as the keeper for the bovine herd. I n this case, a new herd number will be issued in respect of the equines. In all cases, you should complete the application form indicating that you are already registered with a bovine herd number and indicate the relevant keeper and the number and purpose for which you keep horses. If the nominated keeper is the same as for the existing bovine herd, your herd registration will be updated to include equines.

Q. I am giving my land for the running of events/hunts. Do I have to register?

A. The owners of the meeting point, show grounds, or event locations do not have to register. Hunt clubs, event organisers or persons-in-charge are required to register as their premises, their contact address and usual meeting point or showgrounds. They will also be required to keep a record of equines congregating on the day of the hunt or show.

Q. How are my records to be kept?

A. The Department is not specifying how records are to be kept. They can be kept on hard copy or computerised. When you register your premises, you will be given a sample template to show which records are required and these forms may be copied and used if convenient.

Q. How do I register?

A. Registration is through the local Department of Agriculture regional offices. Application forms are available from the Department's regional offices or from the department's Animal Health Division on 01 6072466. The forms can also be downloaded from www.agriculture.gov.ie.

Irish Independent