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Economic News

Virginia Horse Industry has $1.2 Billion Annual Economic Impact


The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today a new study on the Virginia horse industry. A study prepared by the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center (WCC) for Public Service and funded by the Virginia Horse Industry Board found that the horse industry in Virginia has an annual economic impact of $1.2 billion. WCC’s Regional Economist Dr. Terance Rephann determined that the equine industry in the Commonwealth continues to expand and its economic impact continues to grow. “The equine industry’s influence is felt in all parts of the state,” said Dr. Rephann. “We see a very positive effect on jobs, recreation, tourism, retail sales and state and local taxation.”


He adds that the largest areas of economic impact continue to be in Northern Virginia with more than 1,600 horse-related jobs in Fauquier and Loudoun Counties. However, the largest employment impact in the state is in Rockbridge Country—the location of the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington. More than 1,330 jobs are industry related in Lexington and Buena Vista. “The horse industry in Virginia generates $65.3 million in state and local taxes,” he said, “with more than 50 percent of that representing state taxes.”

Additional key findings from the just-released equine survey include:


  • The industry generated more than 16,000 jobs in 2010 in Virginia with the greatest effects in the agricultural and ag services sectors, and a lesser effect in the areas of trade and construction.


  • Horse owners spend $873 million annually on horse-related expenses—including feed and bedding, boarding, training, tack, capital improvements and labor. These expenses average $4,060 per horse.


  • Nearly 1,200 horse shows and events were held in Virginia in 2010—generating $25 million in revenue.


  • Some 939,000 people attended Virginia horse shows and competitions last year. Out-of-state participants spent an average of $3,100 per event.


  • Virginia ranks 12th in the nation for numbers of horses.


  • According to the Census of Agriculture Statistics, while the number of farms in Virginia decreased between 1997-2007, the number of farms with horses actually increased from 10,972 to 13,520 during that same period—offsetting a more significant decline in farms in general.


  • Virginia has an estimated 215,000 equines and some 41,000 equine operations.

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