Illinois horsemen pass equine checkoff


SALEM, Ohio – Illinois horsemen voted in a statewide referendum to implement an equine checkoff, making it the first of its kind in the United States.

The equine industry is the only nonedible agricultural commodity with a checkoff.

The state department of agriculture is still verifying vote totals.

Real value. Horse owners in that state will finance research and education programs with funds generated from a feed-based checkoff program sponsored by the Horse Council of Illinois.

That program could generate as much as $400,000 a year through a voluntary nickel-per-bag or $2 per ton fee on commercial and manufactured feed.

The checkoff is expected to cost no more than $1.85 per horse per year, yet generate up to $400,000 annually to help fund projects, according to Kevin Kline, an animal scientist at the University of Illinois.

For expansion. Money from the checkoff will be used to expand the state’s existing equine program.

“We envision a grant program that will not be limited to racing and the universities, but will help handicapped riders in local programs, 4-H, Extension and FFA equine youth programs at the local level, as well as other types of community-based programs,” said Frank Bowman, Horse Council of Illinois president.

Types of outreach and promotion projects envisioned by members of the council include seminars, books and CD-ROMs, horse farm open houses, plus judging and horsemanship training.

Opt out. The assessment would also apply to feed sold or imported for sale in Illinois.

Manufacturers of commercial equine feed will be asked to collect the voluntary nickel-per-bag assessment and forward a report and the funds to the checkoff board quarterly.

Horse owners who buy feed but don’t wish to contribute can ask for a refund.

Bowman said the board hopes to begin collecting the assessment as early as the first quarter of 2004.

Seating a board. The next step is seating 12 members to the Illinois Equine Industry Research and Promotion Board, including representatives of the state’s harness racing, thoroughbred racing, pleasure, show and working horse industries.

One member of that board will represent the feed and grain industry.

The board will lay the groundwork for bylaws, operating procedures and how funds collected through the checkoff will be spent.

(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at


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