Anne M. Eberhardt

Census: MD Equine Industry Valued at $5.6B

Census results show assets of Maryland equine industry are valued at $5.6 billion.

Statistics released by the Maryland Horse Industry Board show the equine industry in the state has assets worth about $5.6 billion, and that Thoroughbreds lead the way by population of breed.

The equine census, conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the MHIB, was taken in 2010. Surveys were mailed to about 24,000 individuals.

The MHIB in a Feb. 8 release said the stats reflect the number of horses in the state on May 1, 2010, and expenditures and assets are based on 2009 numbers reported by those surveyed.

The census shows that of 81,000 equines, 26,400, or 32.6%, are Thoroughbreds. Quarter Horses are next at 10,600 (13.1%); Standardbreds were numbered at 4,700 (5.8%).

Total equine-related operating expenses in 2009 were valued at $363 million, while capital expenditures that year totaled $149 million, the census shows. Equine-related land totals 587,000 acres.

“These data show the significant value and size of the equine industry in Maryland, and serve as confirmation of the economic importance of this viable industry to the state,” Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “We are committed to fostering Maryland’s equine industry and doing all we can to protect the thousands of jobs that depend on our rich history of horse racing and recreational riding.”

O’Malley was instrumental in bringing the Maryland Jockey Club and horsemen together in late 2010 to work out a plan for 2011 racing dates. He also has pledged some state assistance to ensure future racing dates in an environment that now has slot machines.

The survey results on economic impact figure to be used by equine industry representatives during the current Maryland General Assembly session.

Since 2002 the number of horses in Maryland has decreased 7%, though the value of the equine inventory has increased 10% since 2002, according to the census.

“Gov. O’Malley has taken a keen interest in Maryland’s equine industry, and this census validates its vibrant economic and cultural importance,” said MIHB chairman Jim Steele, manager of Shamrock Farm in Woodbine, Md. “The numbers reflect what we expected to see based on the current economic climate. The data show the importance of the industry as a whole from racehorses to the pleasure-riding segment.”