US horse industry survey delayed until 2023 to better understand Covid recovery

The government and industry rely on the survey data to help with decisions on building and maintaining trails, and agriculture and equine facilities.
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American horse owners will have to wait until 2023 to get a true handle on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the nation’s equine industry.

The American Horse Council Foundation has postponed its 2022 National Economic Impact Study until the following year.

The foundation said it made the difficult decision after consulting with members and industry stakeholders.

According to the Brookings Institution, an independent research group based in Washington, DC, the US experienced two consecutive quarters of declines in gross domestic production (GDP) as the pandemic worsened.

The decrease of 9.1% in the second quarter of 2020 was the steepest quarterly drop in economic output since modern record-keeping began in 1947.

Covid-19–related job losses resulted in total employment falling by 20.5 million jobs in April. And, in 26 states, more than one in five households was behind on rent in July.

“The pandemic has affected the horse industry in a number of areas, and there is sufficient concern that the industry may not have fully recovered enough to accurately portray the robustness of its economic contributions,” American Horse Council President Julie Broadway said.

“It may take several more months for the industry to recover from the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

“For example, while show and competitions have reopened and started to rebound, some venues still have few spectators. Racetracks will not be operating 100% for the full year 2021, and in some cases, fans have not been allowed back to the grandstands at full capacity.

“Recreational riding should be recovering this summer,” she said, “but still perhaps not 100% on the year.”

The council believes 2023 will be especially important, noting that major economic changes have occurred during the past five years.

Not only have business closures and resulting federal stimulus programs related to the pandemic made a major impact, but the industry has adapted to historic changes made to the tax code since 2017.

The study explores the economic impact, both direct and indirect, for each sector of the industry; horse populations, the number of volunteers, land usage, the demographics of owners; and employment data, among other things.

It does not include marketing information such as buying habits or product use.

The national study costs $US300,000 to $US400,000 to conduct. The organization relies on contributions, sponsorships and advertising to fund it.

The data gathered can be crucial in determining where resources go — and don’t go.

Policymakers use survey data — both the total population count and population characteristics — to allocate resources.

The government and industry also rely on the survey data — more specifically, the total number of horses in each state to shape the political landscape within states by informing decisions on building and maintaining trails, and agriculture and equine facilities. The data can help politicians understand their constituents’ influence.

Many manufacturers and service providers also use the survey data to gauge the market and drive product development and business potential.

City planners, businesses, real estate developers, and policymakers review data from the survey to better understand the needs of local residents and neighborhoods.

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