Study: MD horse industry impact set at ‘conservative’ $1.15 billion

Posted: Nov. 22, 2016

The results of an economic impact study released Nov. 21 show the Maryland horse industry has a value of $1.15 billion—and that’s a conservative number given the parameters of the study.

Sage Policy Group worked with the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Horse Council, Maryland Horse Industry Board, and others to survey industry participants. Anirban Basu, chairman and chief executive officer of Sage, said almost 700 surveys were completed for a high 70% response rate.

“We feel really good about the foundational data,” Basu said during a press conference at Baltimore’s Goucher College, which will become the new home of the MHBA offices.

The $1.15 billion figure, which is up from $930 million in 2010, takes into account direct effects, indirect effects, and induced effects of the horse industry. Sage noted the results don’t embody the impact of racetrack operations in Maryland, which led the company to call the numbers conservative.

Basu said the Maryland horse industry, particularly the racing and breeding sector, for many years was in “sharp decline” because of the advent of racetrack gaming in neighboring West Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Maryland racing and breeding now gets a percentage of revenue from casinos in the state.

“The Maryland horse industry was no longer playing on a level playing field,” Basu said of the competition from other states with gaming. “There was a direct correlation between the strength of their horse industries and the decline of ours. But now this is a rapidly growing industry in Maryland.”

From 2002-10–before Maryland racing and breeding began receiving a cut of video lottery terminal revenue, inflation-adjusted industry spending dropped almost 45%. But from 2010-15, it increased 19%, according to the Sage study.

The study shows the horse industry in Maryland supported about 9,100 jobs in 2015, with a projection the total will grow to about 11,000 by 2020.

“This is an important day for Maryland agriculture and an exciting day for the Maryland hores industry and Goucher College,” Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder said. “This study shows how passionate Marylanders are about the horse industry in the state. It’s an important contributor to our economy, and it supports all of our agriculture businesses.”

Dr. Jose Antonio Bowen, president of Goucher College, said having the MHBA offices on the grounds of the facility will augment its “premier equestrian program,” which he noted has been ranked in the top 10 in the United States over the past five years.

More information on the Sage Policy Group study is available here.

(Laurel Park photo by Jim McCue/MJC)