Edited press release
A pilot program in New York is said to have the potential to increase the profitability and number of horse-related businesses in Saratoga County, where the horse industry's impact is valued at more than $317 million.
The New York Farm Viability Institute has awarded $80,000 to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County for the project, which calls for a survey of farm and equine business owners to identify needs and opportunities. A resource educator will then help farm owners develop business plans with the expertise of Cornell University's FarmNet program.
Project coordinator Jennifer Conte said existing farms that implement business plans would see at least a 5% increase in profitability. Less established and new operations should plan for at least a 10% increase, Conte said.
Anne McMahon of McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds, a family-owned breeding and training business in Saratoga for more than 35 years, said the Saratoga CCE equine project would help new investors.
"This is a much-needed program since knowledge of horses, their health issues, and facilities is quite specific to the horse industry," McMahon said. "Individuals who seek help will find it, thereby keeping their equine-related agricultural endeavors profitable. This program will help to draw horse people and will maintain confidence that there are professionals here to support the myriad needs of the horse industry."
Chris Neilson of Neilson's Windy Acres, a horse boarding facility, said a developing Web site (www.ccequine.org) would act as a vital clearinghouse of information on the regional horse industry. "Right now, there is no way for new people to learn where the horse facilities are except by word of mouth and advertising in the local paper," he said.
The project is the first horse-industry proposal submitted to and funded by the institute, which is a farmer-led, farmer-driven, independent not-for-profit corporation that funds research, extension, and innovative technologies for New York agricultural and horticultural industries. The institute funds agricultural and horticultural projects that will positively impact producers at the farm enterprise level. The 2006 New York state budget includes $5 million for the institute.
For more information, contact the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County at 518-885-8995, or the New York Farm Viability Institute at 315-453-3823.