January 2017 Issue - page 10

Page 10
January 2017
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
by Marcella Peyre-Ferry
How many horses are in
southeastern Pennsylvania, and
how important are they to the
region’s economy? Everyone
connected to the horse industry
in any way, in the southeastern
region of the state, is urged to
take part in an online survey that
will help find answers to those
questions.
Delaware Valley University
and the Chester-Delaware County
Farm Bureau have worked
together to develop the survey,
which can be found at www.
sepaequine.org. Its purpose is
to provide an objective estimate
Survey Will Measure Economic Impact of Horses in Southeast Pennsylvania
of the economic contribution
the horse industry makes to the
economy of southeastern Penn-
sylvania.
“We have a unique com-
bination of skill sets with our
Agribusiness Department, our
Equine Science and Management
Department and our Business De-
partment. The three departments
are able to use those skill sets
together to create the survey, to
get the information out, and then
to analyze the data and get it back
out to horse owners and legis-
lators,” Cory Kieschnick, chair
of the Department of Equine
Science and Management at Del-
aware Valley University said.
The survey is looking for
responses from horsemen in
Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware,
Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgom-
ery, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and
York counties. You do not have
to be a farm owner, and you do
not even have to own a horse of
your own. Riding students and
businessmen who deal in equine
related products and services are
also invited to take part in the
survey.
“They really do make a big
difference with their contribution
to the industry as a whole. When
you start looking through every-
thing we spend money on, it’s a
huge industry,” Kieschnick said.
Taking the survey is simple.
Questions that ask for an amount of
money spent do not require exact
answers, just your best estimate.
“We know that the average
horse owner does not have all the
data right in front of them, but
they can give us their estimated
range in their expenditures,”
Kieschnick said
When you finish the final
survey page, note the password
you are given. It will enable you
to enter a drawing for one of five
$100 Amazon gift cards. The en-
try form is independent from the
survey, so putting your name in
for the drawing will not identify
your survey responses.
“When we were putting the
survey together we wanted to
make sure everybody understood
it is anonymous,” Kieschnick
said.
An effort is also being made
to include the Amish population
in the survey. Student volunteers
from Delaware Valley University
are going to Amish farms in per-
son to ask for their participation
in the survey, or at least a count
on the number of equines they
own.
Industry Underestimated
John M Urbanchuk, assistant
professor and chair of the Agri-
business Department at Dela-
ware Valley University, believes
that the real impact of the horse
industry is being underestimated.
Current USDA estimates put the
horse population of the region at
just 15,000, a figure that he feels
is well below the actual count.
“At the USDA, they don’t go
out and count horse noses. They
do a sampling and go from there.
We think that probably underes-
timates the equine population,”
Urbanchuk said.
The last survey of this kind
was done in 2003 and it was on
a statewide basis, while the new
effort focuses on the southeastern
region only. It is estimated that
this ten county area accounts for
about one third of the total equine
population of Pennsylvania, yet
the area’s farms and open space
are heavily threatened by devel-
opment.
Once the results are in, they
will be compiled into statistics
for the region, plus they will be
broken down by county if enough
responses are received. It will
provide information on items
such as employment, household
income and tax revenue, as well
as a current census of the region’s
equine population.
The results will be made
available to the public. It is hoped
that knowing how important the
horse industry is to the region
will encourage state and local
governments to take it into con-
sideration when making regula-
tions that could have an impact
on horsemen.
“We’re going to write a
report that we’re going to pub-
licize as much as we can. We’re
going to look at the region as a
whole, and where we get enough
information, we’re going to break
it down into individual counties,”
Urbanchuk said. “We’re looking
to get it out to as broad an audi-
ence base as we can get.”
The survey is expected to
run through the end of January.
For that reason, everyone is
asked to take the survey as soon
as possible by going to www.
sepaequine.org. Frequently asked
questions and answers are posted
for your review before you begin
the survey.
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