The typical New York Thoroughbred breeding farm is family owned and operated, less than 100 acres in size and reliant upon awards from the New York breeding program and other non-farm income to operate, according to a survey released Wednesday by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc. and Friends of New York Racing, Inc.
The survey, conducted in the spring, based on responses of 101 of the 400 Thoroughbred breeding farms located in 48 of New York's 62 counties. According to the New York State Breeding and Racing Program, in 2004, there were a total of 3,202 mares involved in breeding in the state, an increase of 58% from 1994, and 42,000 acres of land in use by Thoroughbred breeding operations.
The New York State Thoroughbred breeding program is awards some $30 million per year in prize money and bonuses for New York-bred horses. Officials said the new study shows that most horse farms are small businesses that rely on the health of the overall horseracing industry to remain viable.
"The New York Thoroughbred breeding farms' survey confirms what we at NYTB have known all along; that the majority of our breeders in New York are farmers who work seven days a week with their families to make a living in the breeding business," said Dennis Brida, president of NYTB. "As the state contemplates the future direction of horseracing, it is essential it factors in the jobs, economic contributions and preservation of working open space that these farms produce."
"This is a first effort to develop an accurate picture of the economic and demographic status of this important and sizeable New York agribusiness," said Tim Smith, president and CEO of FNYR. "This survey is a natural follow-up to the American Horse Council study revealing that the New York State horse industry generates 35,200 jobs and an annual economic impact of $2.4 billion ($1.3 billion from Thoroughbreds)."
According to Cindy Sinchak, who owns Windswept Farm in Montgomery County, "I'm into Thoroughbred farming because I love it. A friend turned me onto it about nine years ago. We always had riding horses, but breeding is something totally different."Windswept is an 86-acre farm which specializes in breeding mares, with the number of mares fluctuating between two and eight.
Key study results include:
--88% of breeders own all or a part of his/her own farm;
--The breeder has run his/her farm for more than 13 years (median 11 years);
--77% of farms are less than 100 acres in size;
--The farm boards approximately 25 Thoroughbreds (median 11);
--The breeder owns approximately 50% of the Thoroughbreds on the farm;
--The farm employs 2.54 people;
--The farm has a gross income of $222,068.65 (median $75,000) and net income of -$1,933.38 (median $5,000);
--The breeder has debt related to the horse business;
--New York breeders have a median non-farm income of $50-100,000;
--Approximately two-thirds of New York breeders have a net worth under $1 million.