THE voice of the British Equestrian Trade Association was represented in the House of Commons recently during a hearing on hunting.
BETA Director General Antony Wakeham, together with Chief Executive and Secretary Claire Williams was invited to speak on behalf of the association during two hearing days which discussed the work of the Middle Way Group on how to continue hunting by licensing.
Mr Wakehams response focused on the economic impact of the ban on hunting and the opportunity arose following a response he made to the Middle Way Group earlier in the year.
The Middle Way Development committee invited a select group of speakers to the hearing groups including Simon Hart and Sam Butler of the Countryside Alliance and Alastair Jackson of the Masters of Foxhounds Association.
Said Mr Wakeham: I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of BETA at the hearing days and hope the voice of the equestrian industry was well and truly heard.
BETA takes a neutral position on the ethics and conduct of hunting. It is concerned solely with the economic effects of any proposal to change the status quo on hunting.
It is particularly charged to protect the interest of its members and it follows that BETA is concerned with the effects of change in the whole equestrian industry from which the trade derives its livelihood.
BETA made a detailed submission to the Burns Inquiry which set out the effects on the horse industry of a ban on hunting. The key effect of a ban was subsequently shown to be a loss of between 11,700 and 13,900 full time job equivalents and the trade was likely to lose some £47 million in turnover annually after allowing for migration to other riding disciplines.
Added Mr Wakeham: The Middle Way proposals may or may not reduce equestrian activity but the evidence is that any regulation will have the effect of reducing some hunting activity which will consequently affect the trade and the wider horse industry.
The current Middle Way proposals do not provide a clear cut scenario against which businesses can make sensible plans.
The possibility of substantial reductions in hunting activity and the loss of small hunts will mean that businesses will assume the worst.
BETA would therefore anticipate some reduction in many sectors including saddlery, horse equipment, hunt clothing, horse care products, farriery, feed and liveries to name just a few.
Throughout the debate on the future of hunting BETA has constantly challenged the proposed ban, highlighting the huge job losses that would result and the serious effect it would have on the industry.