Study looks at economic impact of equine industry
By Steven Hoffman
The Chester-Delaware County Farm Bureau, working in collaboration with Delaware Valley University, has commissioned a study to look at the contribution of the equine industry to the economy of southeastern Pennsylvania.
John M. Urbanchuk, an assistant professor and Agribusiness chair at the university, is serving as the project leader of the equine study.
The purpose of the survey is to provide an objective estimate of the economic importance of the equine industry in the area, and to update the census of equine in the region.
Letters have been mailed out to many of the horse owners in the area, but anyone who hasn't received the survey can access it at www.sepaequine.org.
The results of the study will be used to inform and educate equine industry stakeholders, the community, and officials and legislators at the local and state levels about the importance of the equine industry to the region. The economic impact on the local economy will be driven by data on expenditures by type for the major segments of the industry. The last study of this type was conducted in 2003, and examined the equine industry on a statewide basis.
Participants in the survey should not identify themselves, or the operation that they are representing. All data will be held in strict confidence, and will only be released in aggregate form. No individual equine businesses will be identified, nor will expenditure data for any individual operation be released to any individual or company.
Horses represent an important segment of farming and land use in Chester County. A Penn State University survey completed in 2010 estimated that there were 15,500 horses in Chester County, and 4,300 of those were race horses. The impact of the equine industry is estimated at $65.7 million, or approximately $4,239 per horse.
Numerous events in Chester County in the county involve racing, dressage, carriage racing and showing at different locations, attracting many visitors who contribute to the local economy. Additionally, horses require significant acreage for pastures, hay, and forage. The University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square has a world-renowned veterinary program that also treats horses.
The equine industry is a term used to describe all the activities involving horses—the breeding, training, and boarding of horses for racing, dressage, farm work, and all the recreational activities, such as trail riding and fox-hunting.