Horse Industry Promotion Referendum
Horse and other equine animal owners/lessors will vote across the state on March 8, 2017 to determine whether to continue to voluntarily assess themselves four dollars ($4.00) per ton of commercial horse feed in order to provide funds to promote the interests of the horse industry.
Troy Coggins, County Extension Director, says the vote in Davidson County will take place in the Davidson County Extension Office, 301 E. Center Street, Lexington, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Any North Carolina resident who has reached his/her ninth birthday as of January 1, 2017, and who has complete or partial ownership or lease of an equine (horse, pony, mule, donkey or hinny) is eligible to vote. Individuals must sign a statement certifying eligibility at time of voting.
Since many horse owners work away from home during business hours, a provision has been made for absentee voting. Between the dates of February 20–March 8, horse owners may visit or call the County Extension Center and request a ballot and absentee registration form. These must be turned in to the Extension office by March 8, and will be counted along with others on March 9. Please call Sara Drake, Livestock Extension Agent, at 336-242-2082 to request an absentee ballot.
If the vote is favorable on March 9, the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will continue to receive the assessment funds from manufacturers and/or distributors of horse feed, and will remit the money to the NC Horse Council. The Horse Council has indicated that the funds will be used for 4-H and other youth and educational programs, trails advocacy, equine research, representation of horse interests in government, marketing programs, enforcement of horse laws, and improved public awareness of diseases and other threats to horses’ well-being.
“The feed assessment has provided essential funding to the North Carolina Horse Council to meet a wide variety of needs throughout the horse industry,” said Tom Thomas, President of the North Carolina Horse Council. “The economic impact of the horse industry is estimated to be over $1.2 billion annually, so it plays a huge role in supporting the NC economy. Employment of more than 10,000 people in North Carolina are directly or indirectly linked to the industry. This small self-assessment is just one way we can expand our services to horse owners and maximize the economic benefits of horse ownership.”
“I am very excited about the wide range of horse activities which have been started and expanded during the past years of the promotion assessment funding,” Sue Gray, Executive Director said. “As never before, we have been able to financially support programs which assist horse owners across the state. We now have effective programs in place to assist with equine education, disaster, animal welfare, environmental regulation, equine disease and liability issues. The NC Horse Council has made access and protection of trails a priority supported by the employment of a trails specialist. This funding has truly advanced the North Carolina horse industry. I hope our horse owners will vote on March 8, and I hope they will vote YES,” said Gray.
Many other agricultural commodities have similar voluntary assessment programs. Horsemen may receive a refund of the assessment by writing to the NC Horse Council within a year of purchase and including proof of purchase.
For additional information regarding the NC Horse Council or the referendum, contact Sue Gray at 919.854.1990.