The Maryland Horse Industry Board has commissioned the United States Department of Agriculture to conduct a census of the Maryland equine population starting in May. The 2010 Equine Census will include horses, ponies, mules, burros, and donkeys, regardless of ownership or use. The census will be the second count of its kind of equines in Maryland, the first one having been conducted in 2002.
“The first equine census eight years ago gave us an important baseline for measuring the size of our equine industry,” said Maryland agriculture secretary Buddy Hance in a release. “It reinforced that horses of all kinds are remarkably important to Maryland’s agricultural sector, jobs, economy, and land base. With the 2010 count, we will learn how the industry has changed, which can in turn help us determine what policy or economic development activities might be needed.”
Beginning in April, the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will mail out more than 21,000 forms to equine owners and stable operators to collect information on Maryland’s equine industry for the 2009 calendar year. Completed forms are due by June 1.
“It is important that everyone who receives a questionnaire respond," said Jim Steele, chairman of the MHIB and manager of Shamrock Farm in Woodbine, Md., in a statement. "Whether you own a single horse for your family’s recreational use or run a large breeding or training facility, we need your input."
The census is the only reliable measure of the size and economic impact of the industry. Anyone involved in equine activities who does not receive a questionnaire by May 1 should call 1-800-675-0295 to request a questionnaire.
For more information about the Maryland Field Office of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service or the 2010 Maryland Equine Census, visit: www.marylandhorseindustry.org/census.shtml or www.nass.usda.gov/md