Major survey of Australian horse owners

July 2, 2009

How are Australian horse owners being affected by the downturn? What are their feelings towards an industry-wide levy?

A fresh survey by the Australian Horse Industry Council hopes to get insights into these and other questions. It is 12 months since the council last conducted a survey.

The council said it was asked weekly about industry data from a wide variety of sources - academics, industry, horse organisations, media representatives, students, horse owners and so on.

Current information is not comprehensive and needed updating constantly.

The latest survey seeks to update and expand on previous knowledge.

The council said it would be informative to gain insight into how horse owners are coping with the current bad economic conditions and whether they are still as active in the industry.

It also wanted feedback about a possible annual levy.

In April, representatives from 12 of 14 large member-based organisations agreed that it would be a good idea for an annual levy to be paid by horse owners to fund ongoing horse industry activities.

These would include such activities as research and development, promotion, biosecurity and quarantine for horse events and horse properties, Animal Health Australia membership, advocacy, industry consultations and meetings, development and maintenance of a national horse database, safety and occupational health programmes in the horse industry, and continuing education of horse industry participants.

It said any excess collections could be diverted into a contingency fund to be held in case there is a future exotic disease outbreak.

Such funds could be used to offset part of any eligible costs incurred in an emergency disease response.

A major benefit of having an annual horse industry levy would be ongoing funding for horse industry activities. Currently, there is none, the council said.

"It would also be a point for unification across the entire horse industry because everybody would be working to the same set of rules and for the same purposes - advancement of the entire horse industry, both its horses and their owners," the council said.

The survey also seeks basic demographic data about horse owners and those who participate in the horse industry.

"This is so that AHIC has some idea about where horse owners are, and how they compare with other individuals in the community at large. The information gathered from this part of the survey can be compared with data collected in the national census to determine if those in the horse industry are similar to the 'average Australian person' or different in some way."