Efforts to cut red tape could backfire and hit Suffolk’s world-class bloodstock industry, the Government has been warned.

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Ministers have been told that plans to scrap rules which require owners to report outbreaks of two
contagious equine diseases, could deter traders around the world from exporting UK horses.

Contagious equine metritis (CEM) and equine viral arteritis (EVA) are currently on the list of notifiable diseases, which means they have to be reported to the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).

But Defra is proposing to scrap the status as part of the Government’s “red tape challenge”, which was set up to “save businesses time and money in needless regulation”.

But Richard Lancaster, chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, said the full implications of any change needed to be thoroughly assessed.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, who has raised the issue in the House of Commons, said: “The removal of notifiable disease status for contagious equine metritis and equine viral arteritis is causing much concern in the world-class bloodstock industry in this country.”

During Defra questions, he asked minister George Eustice if he was aware that the export of horses from the UK to Hong Kong, India, Qatar, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries was likely to be hit because notifiable status was a prerequisite for horses in those countries.

Mr Lancaster said: “The Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA) is acutely aware of how the recommended changes into the removal of notifiable disease status for contagious equine metritis (CEM) and equine viral arteritis (EVA) would impact on trade and veterinary issues affecting breeders both domestically and internationally.

“The British Breeding Industry makes an annual contribution of £281million to the economy and it is therefore vital that this proposal is looked at and the full implications of any change assessed thoroughly.”

Minister George Eustice said he had asked officials to look at the matter closely “to reassess the impacts on the trade, and to investigate alternative ways forward, such as burden sharing with the industry”.

It comes after David Cameron declared in January that his was the first government in modern history to reduce overall domestic regulation for business while in office and 800 regulations had already been abolished or simplified.

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