PA Equine Coalition Welcomes Gov. Shapiro’s Budget Proposal

Racing action at The Meadows
Published: March 13, 2023 03:15 pm EDT

Stakeholders in Pennsylvania’s horse breeding and racing industry expressed their appreciation to Governor Josh Shapiro, who presented his new administration’s first proposed budget to the legislature last week. The proposed budget, unlike those presented by the prior administration, does not recommend any additional transfers of funding from the Race Horse Development Trust Fund (RHDTF), which serves as the major source of funding for breeding incentives and racing purses in the Commonwealth.    

“Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal signals his recognition of the importance of the racing and breeding sector to the overall state economy, and we thank him for his support,” said Russell Williams, who serves as President of the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania (SBAP).  “The equine sector is the second largest segment of Pennsylvania’s overall agriculture industry, and we believe we are in an excellent position for continued growth. We look forward to working with Governor Shapiro and the legislature on initiatives that will strengthen Pennsylvania’s breeding and racing sector and, in the process, benefit the broader agricultural industry.”

“The support of the Governor and legislature is very instrumental to the success of the breeding and racing industry in Pennsylvania,” said Brian Sanfratello, Executive Secretary of the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, which represents the state’s Thoroughbred breeders. “Pennsylvania’s breeding and racing industry is made up of many diverse small businesses that contribute to jobs and the preservation of hundreds of thousands of acres of open space. Breeders, owners, and trainers in the racing industry are also significant drivers of other sectors of the agriculture industry, including hay, straw, grain, and mushroom farmers; feed mills and tack shops; and veterinarians. A strong, viable breeding and racing sector is an important part of ensuring the overall stability of the broader agricultural industry in Pennsylvania.”

In addition to serving as President of the SBAP, Williams also serves as President of Hanover Shoe Farms, Inc., the largest Standardbred horse breeding farm in the world. Situated on 3,000 acres in Adams and York Counties, the operations of the 97-year-old breeding farm underscore the important contributions of horse breeders throughout Pennsylvania to the overall state economy. At peak, more than 1,000 horses reside at the farm, which are cared for by approximately 80 employees, which includes 40 families who live on the farm. Each year, Hanover alone is responsible for the purchase of 1,500 tonnes of hay and 1,500 tonnes of straw, much of which is sourced from local farmers. The farm contributes millions of dollars each year to the state’s economy through the purchase of feed, farm machinery, fence boards, supplies and equipment, as well as numerous contractors.

Collectively, the breeding and racing sector supports hundreds of small businesses and 23,000 family-sustaining jobs, delivers a $1.6 billion economic impact, generates $69 million in annual tax revenue, and protects hundreds of thousands of acres of open space. The impact of the racing and breeding sector extends well beyond those who work at a racetrack or breed horses. Purse money earned by a horse enables the owner to buy hay and straw from farmers, feed from local feed mills, as well as pay the horse’s driver/jockey, trainer, blacksmith, groom, veterinarian and equine dentist. In addition, countless small businesses in the manufacturing, retail and construction industries count horsepeople and breeders among their major customers for horse trailers and vehicles, feed equipment, riding tack and other supplies, the construction or repair of barns and fencing, and more.

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition is a statewide organization that represents more than 10,000 owners, trainers, drivers and breeders in Pennsylvania’s horse racing and breeding industry.  Member organizations include the state’s s six horsemen and breeder associations, including: 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 and Protective Association.

(Pennsylvania Equine Coalition)

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