Horses a $1.2 billion industry in Virginia, study finds

Written by BRIAN McNEILL

Smyth Co Rt 685 Horses
Smyth Co Rt 685 Horses. Image / Virginia Department of Agriculture

While the number of farms in Virginia decreased between 1997 and 2007, the number of farms with horses climbed to 13,520 from 10,972, helping to stave off what would have been a far greater loss of Virginia’s farmland.

The trend is among the key findings of a new study on the economic impact of the state’s horse industry conducted by the University of Virginia’s Center for Economic and Policy Studies at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

“Based on National Agricultural Statistics Service data, horse ownership has been increasing,” economist Terance Rephann, the study’s author, said. “We show that attendance at horse events and the number and variety of shows and competitions has increased, as well. However, the parimutuel racing component has been hard hit in recent years.”

The state’s horse industry has an annual economic impact of $1.2 billion and accounted for 16,091 jobs in 2010, according to the study.

The equine industry generated about $65.3 million in state and local taxes in 2010, with $37.5 million heading into the state’s coffers and $27.8 million going to localities.

Horse owners in Virginia spend about $873 million each year on horse-related expenditures, including feed, bedding, boarding, training, tack, capital improvements and labor. With an estimated 215,000 horses in the state, these expenses come to an average of $4,060 per horse.

There were just shy of 1,200 horse shows and events in Virginia in 2010, generating roughly $25 million in revenue. The estimated attendance of Virginia’s horse shows and competitions in 2010 was 934,000, with nearly 46 percent of attendees drawn from the event’s locality, 40 percent from elsewhere in Virginia and 14 percent from other states. Continue reading >>

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