June 7, 2007 -- The Rutgers Equine Science Center recently released a report on the impact of the equine industry on New Jersey's economy, on traditional agriculture and on the preservation of open space.
"The New Jersey Equine Industry, 2007" report is the result of 18 months of work led by the Equine Science Center, involving government agencies on the federal and state level and several equine-related organizations and private individuals. It is based on the first comprehensive study of the state horse industry since 1996 and comes at a time when interest in the horse industry and open space preservation is intense, says Karyn Malinowski, director of the Equine Science Center.
According to the report, 142,000 acres of farmland directly support horses and equine activities. That's nearly equivalent to the land areas of Cape May, Mercer, Camden and Bergen counties, and considerably larger than Essex, Union, Hudson and Passaic counties.
Horse and horse-related operations, dubbed "working agricultural landscape," compare favorably to other types of open space, such as federal recreation areas (109,700 acres), federal forest and wildlife acres (112,400), state and local land trust acres (213,000) and overall Green Acres land (600,000).
"The best part is that these equine and equine-related acres not only cost taxpayers nothing to support, but their activities actually generate an estimated $160 million annually in federal, state and local taxes," says Malinowski. "This is a win-win for the people of New Jersey."
The study shows that the equine industry has a strong positive impact on the economy as well. It generates an impact of $1.1 billion annually and nearly 13,000 jobs. The top expenditures by equine operations and owners are equipment purchases and depreciation ($40 million), capital improvements ($34 million), horse health costs ($32 million), training fees ($31 million), boarding ($30 million), feed and supplements ($23 million) and hay and forage ($22 million).
There are 42,500 equine animals located on 7,200 operations in the state, and they are found in every county. Hunterdon County, with 1,100 operations, and Monmouth County, with 960, are the leading horse communities, followed by Burlington, Sussex, Salem and Warren counties.
Horse farms are springing up where other forms of agriculture once operated. For example, 24 percent of current horse operations used to be cattle, dairy or poultry farms, and 11 percent once grew field crops. Two percent were in vegetables and fruit, and 18 percent once engaged in other traditional agriculture.
"In terms of the 'big picture,' the horse industry is comparable to such other widely recognized sectors as golf courses, landscaping, biotechnology, marine fisheries and aquaculture and many others," says Malinowski.
"The New Jersey Equine Industry, 2007" is based on a study conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and economic analysis conducted by Rutgers faculty and staff.
Sponsors of the study included the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and its Equine Advisory Board and Sire Stakes units, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association of New Jersey and several private individuals.
A downloadable copy of the study report can be found on the Equine Science Center website at www.esc.rutgers.edu.