Harrisburg, PA --- The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition today applauded the Pennsylvania legislature and Governor for approving a state budget that maintains the state’s commitment to the Pennsylvania horse racing and breeding industry by not diverting $72 million from the Race Horse Development Fund, as had originally been proposed in the state’s preliminary budget.
The Race Horse Development Fund plays an integral role in the success of the Pennsylvania horse racing and breeding industry by providing for competitive purses and breeders awards that have spurred tens of millions of dollars of investment in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition had projected that the diversion of more than $72 million from the fund would result in the loss of as many as 15,000 Pennsylvania jobs by prompting horse owners and breeders to either relocate their businesses or race their horses in other states that offered more competitive purse structures and incentives.
“We thank the legislature for maintaining its commitment to the horse racing and breeding industry in Pennsylvania by properly funding for the Race Horse Development Fund,” said Pete Peterson, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition, a statewide group representing more than 10,000 trainers, owners and breeders of the horse racing industry in Pennsylvania. “Competitive purses and breeding incentives have created tens of thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania and spurred significant investment in the state’s economy. Maintaining the funding levels that the state committed to through Act 71 is vital to the long-term success of the horse racing and equine breeding industries, as well as the overall agriculture sector in Pennsylvania.”
Instead of the original proposal to divert $72 million from the Race Horse Development Fund, the approved budget will allocate a combined $5 million from the RHDF for the Pennsylvania Fairs Fund and Pennsylvania State Farm Products Show Fund. While the state projects that funding available for the horse racing industry through the Race Horse Development Fund may increase slightly from the current fiscal year, the overall funding level is still at the lowest range projected by the legislature when Act 71 was adopted in 2004.
Following the original budget proposal to divert $72 million from the Race Horse Development Fund, the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition and its members launched a comprehensive outreach effort. That effort focused on educating the public and legislators about the broad economic impact of the horse racing industry and the jobs it supports for Pennsylvania farmers, veterinarians, blacksmiths, stable hands, trainers, jockeys, drivers, and a wide range of small businesses.
During the budget process, legislators voiced a variety of reasons for their opposition to the diversion, including the need to maintain a vibrant horse racing industry while keeping the state’s commitment to individuals and businesses who invested significant resources in Pennsylvania.
According to economic data from the Department of Agriculture released in 2010, between 2001 and 2008, the value of the racing industry in Pennsylvania more than quadrupled thanks to Act 71. In addition, the Department of Agriculture stated that due to the Race Horse Development Fund, the overall value of the equine industry increased by 380 percent to $3 billion with employment more than tripling from 13,870 to more than 41,100.
The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition is a statewide group representing more than 10,000 owners and trainers of the horse racing industry in Pennsylvania. Members of the coalition include the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, and the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association.