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Publication - Consultation Paper

Consultation on the implementation of revised EU rules on Equine Identification in Scotland

Published: 22 Aug 2016
Part of:
Farming and rural
ISBN:
9781786524041

Consultation on equine identification legislation, to ensure horses do not enter the food chain if they are exposed to substances not suitable for food chain animals.

30 page PDF

769.2kB

30 page PDF

769.2kB

Contents
Consultation on the implementation of revised EU rules on Equine Identification in Scotland
Part 3 - Derogations, Options, Costs

30 page PDF

769.2kB

Part 3 - Derogations, Options, Costs

Derogations

Article 12 – Deadline for identification of equidae born in the Union

The new Regulation states that the deadline for identification should be no later than 12 months following the date of birth. Article 12(2) provides a derogation which allows Member States to limit this to 6 months or to the calendar year of birth.

Currently in Scotland, an equine must be identified within 6 months of birth or by the 31 December in its year of birth, whichever is later. The new Regulation allows a greater degree of flexibility in that the deadline for issue of a passport should be no later than 12 months following birth. However, there is the option for this to be limited to within 6 months of birth or the calendar year of birth. In answering this question please provide reasons for your choice.

Question 1. Should an equine be identified within 6 months of birth, by the end of the calendar year of its birth, or no later than 12 months following its birth?

Article 25 – Derogation for movements with a smart card

Article 25(1) allows the movement or transport of equidae within the same Member State with a ‘smart card’ rather than its passport provided the ‘smart card’ carries the information set out in Annex II of the new Regulation and is issued by the same body that issued their identification document.

We anticipate that a smart card could be produced at a minimal cost and would provide an additional practical benefit of identification. We therefore propose to exercise the derogation.

Question 2. Do you support the use of the derogation to allow owners or keepers the option to move or transport their animals within Scotland without their ID document, provided they are accompanied by a smart card?

Article 37 – Equidae intended for slaughter for human consumption and medication record

Article 37(5) allows the Member State to adopt measures to ensure that it is the responsibility of the veterinarian (as opposed to the standard rule which is that it is the responsibility of the keeper) to notify the Passport Issuing Organisation ( PIO) that the animal is not intended for the food chain or directly notifying the Central Equine Database within 14 days from the date of signing Part 2 of Section 2.

This is a new derogation providing an option where the responsibility to notify the issuing body or the central database of a change in the food chain status of the equine lies with the veterinarian. We consider that part of the responsibility of ownership of an equine is to notify the PIO or the database about the food chain status of their animal; therefore it is not appropriate that this responsibility is transferred to the veterinarian.

Requirements and Options

Article 11 – Applications for identification documents for equidae born in the Union

Article 11(2) states that Member States shall set the time limits for the submission of the application for identification. Whichever limit is set, issuing bodies should have sufficient time to process applications. We consider that this should be 20 days before the deadline for identification of the equine. This would be in-keeping with the current Minimum Operating Standards for UK approved PIOs, whereby a PIO, on receipt of a correctly completed application form is required to issue a passport within 20 working days.

Question 3. Do you think that the time limit for submission of the application to the PIO should be 20 days before the deadline for identification of the equine?

Article 18(5)(c) – Identity verification

The Competent Authority may require that equine animals deemed to be identified in accordance with the new Regulation, are marked by implantation of a transponder where the competent authority considers it is necessary to ensure identity verification. This gives Scottish Government the option of requiring that all equidae identified before 1 July 2009 but without a transponder, to be implanted with transponder. This would in effect be a requirement for Microchipping of older animals.

Question 4. Do you think that it is necessary that all equines born before 1 July 2009 should be identified by implantation of a transponder and what is the evidence for it being necessary for identity verification of these equidae?

Costs/Charging/Fixed Penalty Notices

Costs

Question 5. Other than the costs listed in the Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA), do you envisage any further financial impact on yourself/your business or organisation as a result of the implementation of this Regulation?

Charging - Minimum rate for administering and issuing passports

An Official Food and Feed Controls ( OFFC) Audit recommended that Scottish Government should consider with Scottish PIOs, a standard set of fees for administering and issuing passports. Under EU legislation, Scottish Ministers are responsible for approving breed organisations or associations. This approval confers responsibilities, such as the right to issue horse passports, i.e. to become a PIO. As such, PIOs are providing a service to horse owners on Ministers’ behalf.

Question 6. Do you consider that Scottish Government should explore with the Scottish Passport Issuing Organisations a minimum rate for administering and issuing of passports?

Fixed Penalty Notices

Enforcement of the Horse Passport Regulations is undertaken by Local Authorities; Food Standards (Scotland) is responsible for carrying out appropriate checks at slaughterhouses. The Scottish Government is considering the principle of introducing an enforcement mechanism whereby failure to comply with certain provisions of the Regulations carries a fine in the form of a Fixed Penalty Notice. This would fall short of a criminal court prosecution.

Question 7. Do you think that compliance with the Horse Identification Regulations could be improved through the use of Fixed Penalty Notices?

Partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment

Title of Proposal

COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION ( EU) 2015/262 laying down rules pursuant to Council Directives 90/427/ EEC and 2009/156/ EC as regards the methods for the identification of equidae (Equine Passport Regulation)

Purpose and intended effect

  • Background

The European Commission became aware in 2013 that horse meat was entering the human food chain. Horse meat which was either being fraudulently sold to consumers or had been treated with certain medications which would deem an animal not suitable for human consumption. Following discussions with The European Commission, it was decided that current equine identification rules were not fit for purpose and that along with changes to equine identification documents, each Member State should establish a Central Equine Database ( CED).

  • Objective

To change current policy to ensure that horses do not enter the human food chain if they have been treated with substances not suitable for food chain animals. To tighten up controls on the issue, use and quality of horse passports and establish a UK Central Equine Database ( UKCED) that will contain records of all horses resident in the UK.

  • Rationale for Government intervention

To comply with European legislation, the Scottish Government is required to implement the revised Horse Identification (Scotland) Regulations in order to protect public health. The EU regulation also requires the establishment of a mandatory UKCED. In addition, through consultation with Scottish Passport Issuing Organisations ( PIOs) and equine sector stakeholders, it is clear that there was a preference for a standalone Scottish Equine Database ( SED) which would provide Scottish data to the UKCED. There are a number of benefits to a having a SED, for example, equine identification is a devolved policy area alongside areas such as disease control and welfare in which it would assist with delivery of wider policy objectives. It would also help to prepare for the EU Animal Health Regulation which is likely to require central recording of the normal place of residency of equines.

Consultation

  • Within Government

Within Government we have accessed the Equine Stakeholder Group (established in 2014) to discuss some of the issues that will have an impact on the equine sector as a result of the revised horse identification regulations. The Group includes representatives from Scottish PIOs, the British Horse Society Scotland, Scottish Equine Breeders Association ( SEBA), SSPCA, World Horse Welfare, British Equine Veterinary Association ( BEVA), Local Authorities and SG officials.

  • Public Consultation

A formal consultation on these Regulations will take place from 22 August to 3 October 2016.

  • Business

To date correspondence and discussion with PIOs in Scotland, both individually and through existing stakeholder engagement, has not yielded details of additional costs or burden. Many of the PIOs or horse related businesses are small businesses and we will continue to work with them to maximise compliance with the requirements, possibly by taking a phased approach to some elements.

As well as asking a specific question within the Public Consultation in order to develop a more detailed assessment of costs and burden, Scottish Government officials will arrange meetings with a number of businesses in the Scottish Equine Sector while the public consultation is underway.

Options

  • Option 1 – Do nothing (ruled out)

This is not a viable option since it would mean Scottish Ministers are in breach of their on-going obligations under European Union Law and failure to implement the Regulation could lead to enforcement action. This might involve the Commission bringing infraction proceedings in the Court of Justice of the European Union, or individuals seeking damages for breach of EU law in national courts. Breaching EU law can lead to a Member State being required to pay fines or damages or both.

  • Option 2 – Use of no derogations (not preferred)

It is unlikely that this would be the best course of action as some derogations currently made use of are repeated in the new Regulation and are necessary to maximise compliance, for enforcement purposes, to protect public health and to make it easier to identify fraud.

  • Option 3 – Use of some derogations (preferred)

This option would allow the use of only derogations that are of benefit to the equine sector, or are seen as necessary by Scottish Government veterinary and policy officials.

Sectors and groups affected

  • Passport Issuing Organisations
  • Horse owners/keepers
  • Businesses
  • Breed Associations
  • Vets
  • Enforcement bodies
  • Consumers of horse meat
  • Abattoirs (that process equines)

Benefits

Option 1 – Do nothing

  • Potential risk of infraction
  • No benefit to the equine sector

Option 2 – Use of no derogations

  • Risk to public health
  • Lack of enforcement
  • Risk of fraud
  • Lack of identification and traceability

Option 3 – Use of some derogations (preferred)

  • Ensure protection of public health
  • Improve quality, security and standard of horse passports
  • Identify fraudulent activity
  • Creation of central equine database
  • Effective welfare regime
  • Ensure identity verification by implantation of a microchip for equines born before 1 July 2009.

Costs

Since 2005 all equine owners have been required to have a passport for each animal in order to comply with EU legislation. Since 2009, all foals and newly identified animals have been required to be identified by implantation of a microchip. Failure to transpose EU legislation into domestic legislation puts Government at risk of substantial fines.

Passports. The Scottish Government has provided Scottish PIOs with a 2 year supply of materials to enable them to produce identification documents which will comply with the new passport standards set out in the legislation. Thereafter, PIOs will be required to provide their own materials.

Database. The Scottish Government has agreed in principle to contribute to the build cost and future maintenance of the UKCED for an initial period of 2 years. However, it is clear from stakeholder engagement with the Scottish equine sector, that they have a preference for the establishment of a stand-alone Scottish Equine Database ( SED). The cost of the SED is £182k and will be met by the Scottish Government. The budget figure also includes interface with the UKCED, and the operation and management of live systems through to the end of March 2017.

Smart cards. In order to encourage compliance with the new Regulation, The Scottish Government can see the value of allowing the movement of equidae within Scotland not accompanied by their identification document, provided they use a Smart Card. The option of using a Smart Card is not an alternative to a passport, but an additional means of identification. The estimated cost to anyone wishing to use a Smart Card is between £5 - £10.

Microchipping of older animals. All foals born after 1 July 2009, or horses not identified before that date, must be identified by implantation of a microchip. Horses identified before 1 July 2009 do not currently need to be microchipped. Certain defined populations of wild and semi-wild animals are exempt from the requirement to be implanted with a microchip, however, there are no identified populations within Scotland.

The benefits of microchipping older animals can be seen as significant. For example, it makes it much easier for enforcement bodies and vets to identify an animal that may have been abandoned, lost or stolen; it provides added security in terms of welfare as well as traceability in the event of a disease outbreak.

It costs, on average, £3,000 per year to keep a horse. This can, in monetary terms, prove to be a significant financial burden to their owners, particularly as they get older. The end-of-life disposal costs for a horse can be £400-600. The benefits for the animal and the owner are likely to outweigh the small financial cost of microchipping and will also contribute to the effectiveness of enforcement.

Associated costs for microchipping

GROUP

AFFECT

BENEFIT

ESTIMATED COST

Owners

Benefit/Cost

Assists with reuniting animals with their owners in cases of loss or theft

The average cost of chipping a horse and updating a passport is £40.

PIO’s

Benefit/Cost

Additional passport updates provide extra income

The cost to update a passport can be £10-21. The average is £13.45. There may also be a “time” cost to PIOs.

Vets

Benefit/Cost

Implantation of microchips will provide extra income

The average cost to chip a horse can be £15-£30. Varying call out charges which can be dependent on distance, costing on average £34. The call out charge can, however, be absorbed if the implantation of the chip is carried out during a scheduled vet visit, otherwise there may be additional costs incurred.

Abattoirs

Benefit

Easier access to more accurate identification which will also boost consumer confidence

N/A (There are currently no abattoirs that slaughter horses in Scotland)

Consumers

Benefit

More peace of mind that the meat they are consuming is safe to eat

None

Enforcement Authorities

Benefit/Cost

Easier to identify the horse and owners for successful prosecutions being brought

Can potentially reduce costs as the time and costs associated with identifying and proving ownership will be reduced.

Scottish Firms Impact Test

This will be completed once the data from the Consultation is collected and analysed.

Competition Assessment

Using the Competition and Markets Authority Competition Filter questions we have concluded that the proposals will neither directly or indirectly limit the number or range of suppliers, limit the ability of suppliers to compete or reduce suppliers’ incentives to compete vigorously.

Test run of business forms

There will be no specific business forms involved with the implementation of the proposed legislation.

Legal Aid Impact Test

The proposal is unlikely to have an impact on the legal aid fund.

Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring

Food Standards Scotland ( FSS) is responsible for carrying out appropriate checks at slaughterhouses, which includes the information relating to veterinary medicines administered. Responsibility for other enforcement of the legislation rests with Local Authorities. In addition, PIO’s are also subject to audit to ensure that they comply fully with the requirements of the Regulation. Scottish Government has the authority to withdraw recognition from any authorised PIO’s that consistently fails to abide by the provisions of the legislation. Finally, there is a penalty system in place for anyone who commits an offence under the Regulation.

Implementation and delivery plan

The new equine passport regulation will be transposed into domestic regulation and replace The Horse Identification (Scotland) Regulations 2009. It is anticipated that the new legislation will come into force in early 2017.

Post-implementation review

We plan to audit all Scottish PIO’s within 2 years following implementation of the new Regulation.

Summary and recommendation

Option 3 is preferred. This offers the best measures to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the horse passport regime. It provides improved protection to public health and enhanced enforcement of the Regulation.

Option 3 also allows for the microchipping of equines born before 1 July 2009 which may have been registered, however, have not been implanted with a transponder. The introduction of microchipping of these older animals could be introduced on a voluntary basis to begin with.

Summary costs and benefits – subject to the outcomes of the consultation and in discussion with the equine sector, the financial impact of the implementation of the Regulation will be published along with the new Regulation subject to Parliamentary consideration and approval.


Contact

Email: June Letham, June.Letham@gov.scot