A local lawmaker is working to promote Michigan’s equine industry and increase its visibility.
Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville testified this week before the House Agriculture Committee in support of his plan to create the Michigan Equine Commission and improve the education, research and promotion of the equine industry. Vaupel says the goal of the commission would be to increase the visibility of the equine industry in the state – which could positively impact the $2.6 (B) billion impact horses currently have on Michigan’s economy. Vaupel says horse owners have taken notice of other agricultural groups with similar organizations – including beef, cherries, corn, pork and milk producers – and are eager to start up their own program. He noted that six other states including Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, New York, North Carolina and Virginia currently have equine check-off programs similar to the one he’s proposing.
Under Vaupel’s plan, the commission would have 11 members representing various segments of the equine industry. The commission would administer the Equine Promotion Development Fund, funded by an assessment of $5 per ton of horse feed sold in Michigan and $3 per Coggins test administered in the state. Vaupel says he recognizes there are people who might say commodity groups should have no government involvement but when you consider the benefits to the horse community and economy as a whole, he feels they far outweigh that concern. He added other states with these programs have collected and analyzed data on the horse industry and its economic development, supported state FFA and 4-H groups and other youth equine programs, and provided scholarship opportunities among other benefits. (JM)