Lt. Governor Brown Addresses Horse Industry Leaders at Maryland Horse Forum; Industry Gathers to Chart a Course for the Future
UPPER MARLBORO, MD – More than 400 leaders of Maryland’s equine industry and nationally recognized experts gathered today for the 3rd Maryland Horse Forum at The Show Place Arena and Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, a site important to Maryland’s equine history. The industry leaders charted future plans that will strengthen all elements of this agricultural sector. In his remarks, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown recognized the value of the horse industry to the State’s history and its future, outlined the progress that has been made since the last forum five years ago, and pledged support for the group’s continued hard work to bring all parts of the industry together toward a stronger future.
“The continued success of Maryland’s horse industry is an important part of growing our economy and creating jobs for more Marylanders,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “We’re committed to working with our local partners and today’s awardees to preserve the heritage of our horse industry while strengthening it for the future and supporting the professionals who help it thrive.”
This year’s forum, “Celebrating Our Successes, Planning for the Future,” included facilitated breakout sessions in which participants discussed four key areas: marketing and promoting the industry; business and regulatory issues; land, greenways and going green; and managing the Maryland horse population. The outcomes of the forum will be compiled into a comprehensive report, which will serve as a framework to move the industry forward. The forum, which is held once every five years, was co-hosted by the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB) – a program within the Maryland Department of Agriculture – and the Maryland Horse Council (MHC) – a nonprofit organization. The forum was sponsored by 28 equine organizations.
“We are extremely pleased that such a wide variety of organizations and sponsors from all over the state helped us sponsor the event,” said MHIB Chair Jim Steele. “We could not put on an event of this magnitude without their support.”
“The Maryland Horse Forum is a once-every-five-year opportunity for members of all aspects of Maryland’s diverse equestrian community to come together and explore mutual interests, concerns and ideas for the future,” said MHC President Jane Seigler. “Past forums have resulted in numerous successful business, policy and legislative initiatives, and we anticipate a similar outcome this year. We are delighted that over 400 people have taken time out of their busy schedules to join us today. This gathering is vivid testimony to the size, strength and vibrancy of Maryland’s horse industry.”
Lt. Governor Brown joined Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance, Deputy Secretary Mary Ellen Setting, MHIB Chair Jim Steele, and MHC President Jane Seigler to present the following awards at the event:
- MHIB Distinguished Service Award – John W. Lee, Jr., DVM, Rising Sun, for his 10 years of professional service on the Maryland Horse Industry Board and chairing the Board’s Health Advisory Committee.
- MHIB Distinguished Service Award – Joanne Richart-Young, Earleville, for her 13 years of instrumental service as an advocate for the equine industry. She is the first agricultural coordinator hired by the Cecil County Office of Economic Development.
- MHIB August “Touch of Class Award” – Hope Birsh, Cockeysville, for her involvement in the equine community since 1985 and leadership for the industry as current President-Elect of the American Equine Trade Association.
- MHC Legislative Leadership Award – Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore City, for her instrumental assistance with the Maryland Horse Council’s work on several issues including anti-Sunday hunting legislation.
- MHC Legislative Leadership Award – Sen. Roy P. Dyson, St. Mary’s County, for his support of the Maryland Horse Council’s work and the state’s equine industry.
- MHIB Distinguished Service Award – MDA Stable Inspector Pegeen Morgan, Upper Marlboro, for her more than 30 years of dedicated service to Maryland’s equine industry.
The O’Malley-Brown Administration has made real and steady progress toward fulfilling the recommendations of the 2009 Forum. The accomplishments include:
- When Maryland racing was in jeopardy in 2011, Governor Martin O’Malley stepped in and mediated a short-term agreement which kept racing viable until the industry could take the actions necessary to return the sport to its past preeminence.
- These actions led to the development of a 10-year agreement between all stakeholders in the industry, which has become the cornerstone for racing both now and in the future, and provides the economic stability for stakeholders, including the tracks, the horsemen and the breeders to plan and invest in the future.
- The 10-year plan revitalized the rich tradition of the State’s horse breeding industry, which was severely threatened. Maryland had lost nearly 80 percent of its stallions, mares and foals. The breeding initiative that was developed and put in place resulted in a remarkable resurgence of breeding investment and activity and has already resulted in increased farms and jobs since its inception. This trend is expected to continue exponentially in the future.
- Maryland is leading the way with its medication policies and reforms to keep the industry and its horses healthy and safe. Maryland was the first state to adopt a comprehensive standard policy and medication plan that is to be instituted nationwide.
- The Administration has consistently supported Maryland Horse Industry Board efforts to develop marketing strategies and initiatives to increase participation of spectators and riders in horse events and activities. These projects include: Horse Pals, social media development, a statewide network of 35 Horse Experience Centers, and historic horse trails.
“The O’Malley/Brown Administration has strongly supported all aspects of the horse industry and has demonstrated a significant commitment to strengthening it,” said Agriculture Secretary Hance. “We’ve been able to make important strides with the partnerships we’ve made and the 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.”
According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Equine Survey, there are more than 79,100 horses in Maryland worth $714 million at 16,040 locations where horses are kept. Sixty percent of the horses in Maryland are used for recreation while 40 percent are for racing. There are five racetracks, not including training facilities like Bowie and Fair Hill; 700 licensed stables offer boarding and/or lessons to the public; and there are 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 agenda and more details are available online at: http://mda.maryland.gov/horseboard/Pages/MD-Horse-Forum-2014.aspx. For more information, contact MHIB Executive Director Ross Peddicord at 410-841-5798 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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