|By KEVIN WALKER
EAST LANSING, Mich. — After nearly a 10-year lapse, Michigan State University (MSU) researchers have started a statewide equine survey to aid this part of the state’s economy.
“It’s difficult sometimes to advocate for the horse industry if they don’t have recent numbers,” said Mary Rossano, an epidemiologist at MSU who is involved in the survey. “We think the survey will demonstrate that horse operations are important in strategies to keep farmland open.”
The survey’s purpose is to help local planners and park officials understand the size and needs of the equine industry.
Questionnaires will be mailed this spring to more than 4,000 people involved in the state’s horse industry. Based on information from the last survey, done in 1996, researchers estimate there are between 28,000 and 30,000 equine farms in Michigan and more than 130,000 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules. At the 2005 MSU/Michigan Equine Industry meeting, there was an agreement that a new survey was needed. The Animal Industry Initiative (AII) awarded a grant of $42,500 for the effort. The AII is a coalition of equine industry stakeholders, including the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
Formally called the Revitalization of Animal Agriculture in Michigan Initiative, the AII’s purpose is to develop profitable and sustainable farm production practices, environmentally sound manure management systems, and scientifically sound animal nutrition, comfort and disease diagnosis and treatment.
The granting effort was supported by a number of horse industry groups, including the Michigan Horse Council, Michigan Equine Practitioners Assoc., Brighton Trail Riders Assoc., Pontiac Lake Horseman’s Assoc. and Proud Lake Trail Riders Assoc.
For details about the survey, call Mary Rossano at 517-353-8623, ext. 144. For details about the AII, visit the website at www.animalag.msu.edu
Published in the January 18, 2006 issue of Farm World.