Governor O'Malley Addresses Horse Industry Leaders at Maryland Horse Forum
Equine industry leaders gather to chart a course for the future
ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 6, 2009) –Governor Martin O’Malley today addressed more than 250 leaders of Maryland’s equine industry at The Show Place Arena and Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, a site important to Maryland’s equine history. The horsemen and women gathered to chart a course that will strengthen all elements of this critical agricultural sector as it moves into the future. During his talk at the Second Maryland Horse Forum the Governor recognized the value of the horse industry to the State’s history and its future, outlined the progress that has been made since the first Forum five years ago, and pledged support for the group’s continued hard work to bring all parts of the industry toward a stronger future.
“Our heritage, our spirit, our economy, our land and our jobs – all of those things are strengthened and enriched by the presence of the horse through the centuries, and are no less significant today,” said Governor O’Malley. “The work done today to shape the direction of the horse industry is central to its future viability and prosperity, in turn keeping tens of thousands of jobs, enhancing the enjoyment of citizens of all ages, preserving hundreds of thousands of acres of land and contributing over a billion dollars to the State’s economy.”
The O’Malley-Brown Administration has made real and steady progress toward fulfilling the recommendations of the 2004 Forum. The accomplishments include:
- Fully funding agricultural land preservation – providing a total of $141 million in and protecting nearly 25,000 acres of valuable farmland in Maryland which we’ll be able to pass on to our children and theirs.
- Officially expanding the use of activities appropriate for farmland preserved through the state farmland preservation program to include Maryland’s equestrian activities
- Protecting nearly 24,000 acres of land in two and a half years through Program Open Space.
- Passage of slots legislation with as much as $100 million dedicated annually to purses and breeders incentives.
- Passage of legislation this year to ensure that the Preakness Stakes remains where it belongs here in Maryland, where it’s been run since 1873.
- Approving nearly $35 million in Rural Legacy grants to preserve farms and keep suburban sprawl at bay.
- Signing into law a bill that recognizes equestrian activities as agricultural in nature – helping us to protect more horse farms from zoning issues, prevent further loss of green space, and enable more farms to stay in business.
- Providing, this year through industry-funded Maryland Horse Industry Board grants, just over $20,000 for equine health and education, therapeutic riding, and promotional projects – recognizing the important role that horses can play in improving our quality of life.
“Governor O’Malley has strongly supported all aspects of the horse industry and has shown his commitment to strengthening it,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “We’ve been able to make important strides with the partnership and hard work of horse owners, farm operators, the farmers that grow and sell the feed and hay that horses need, pony clubbers, veterinarians and so many others involved in the day to day success of the industry. There is a great deal more to do and the work that goes on at this forum will guide the way.”
In facilitated breakout sessions, participant discussed topics including labor; zoning, land use, and land preservation; promoting the horse and the industry; legal issues/liability; the future of horse racing; access to trails and public lands; unwanted horses; competition sites and infrastructure; and environmental conservation on the farm. The outcomes of the forum will be compiled into a report, which will serve as a framework to move the industry forward.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Equine Survey, there are more than 87,000 horses in Maryland worth $680 million on 20,200 horse farms. Sixty percent of the horses in Maryland are used for recreational purposes while 40 percent are for racing. There are five racetracks, not including training facilities like Bowie and Fair Hill, 600 licensed stables offering boarding and/or lessons to the public, and eight steeplechase race courses. In 2005, the American Horse Council calculated that the Maryland horse industry has an annual economic impact of $1.6 billion.
The 2009 Maryland Horse Forum was sponsored by The Equiery publication, The Maryland Horse Breeders Association/Maryland Million, Ltd., MidAtlantic Farm Credit, Maryland Farm Bureau, University of Maryland – Equine Studies, Retired Racehorse Training Symposium. For more information, visit www.mdhorseforum.com.