Kentucky Senate Agriculture Committee Unanimously Passes Bill Designating Horses as Livestock

Kentucky Senate Agriculture Committee Unanimously Passes Bill Designating Horses as Livestock

SB-139 will next move to consideration by the full Senate.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (February 28, 2017) — The Kentucky Senate Agriculture Committee today unanimously passed a bill that would designate equines as livestock, an action that if approved will provide tremendous benefit the entire horse industry. Securing livestock classification of horses and equine has been among the top policy priorities of the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), since being founded in 2004.

Sen. Robin Webb of Carter County sponsored Senate Bill 139, which she said she’d been working on for several years.

“Our statutes have been historically inconsistent with the designation of the horse as livestock. We have the support of AAEP, which has taken this position publicly, as well as our major horse-industry groups,” Webb told her fellow committee members before their vote, referencing the American Association of Equine Practitioners, which represents veterinarians of all horse breeds and disciplines. “Seven years ago today, I got my favorite horse. He’s a big part of my life, and I love him. He’s my companion, but he’s not a companion animal. He’s livestock. It’s important to myself as an owner and him as a horse to be so designated, and designated consistently for protections that designation does allow.”

Sen. Damon Thayer, the Republican’s majority floor leader from Georgetown, hopes the bill can go to the Senate floor later this week. “I think it has a great chance to pass the Senate,” added Thayer. ”Then we’ll send it on over to the House and see if we can get agreement from them.”

“SB 139 would be a great step forward for the horse industry as a whole,” stated KEEP executive director Joe Clabes. “Designation as livestock is the most reflective of the realties of breeding, owning and caring for horse and we’re proud to stand in support of this bill with the AAEP and the numerous Kentucky horse organizations from across the state.”

Webb stressed the designation is important to make sure that horses are not classified as companion animals, similar to household pets. She emphasized that her bill did not deal with taxation, with the state’s 6-percent sales tax required when buying feed, bedding and equipment used for equines, with all other livestock exempt.

“We hope to address that at another time, with tax reform or in another measure,” Webb said. “It’s designation of the horse being what it is: And that’s livestock.”

Several of the committee members clearly were sympathetic toward tax equality for the horse industry.

“As chair of the horse farm subcommittee in the Senate, I couldn’t vote any other way on this legislation,” said Sen. Steve West, who lives in Paris and whose district includes some of the most famous Thoroughbred farms in the world. “Basically, it’s equity and fairness for the horse industry.”

“In this state, for years, there seemed to be walls and barriers between one livestock group and another. But this seems to be a way we can bring some of our producers together and put equine on the same page as all the other livestock groups. It’s not a complicated thing. Horses are livestock. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to taxes, but as we go into tax reform in the fall, maybe we can take a look at that.”

Said Thayer: “I think horses are livestock, and should be treated as such in the tax code. I’m hopeful some day, when we do tax reform, we can get tax parity for the equine industry. I think this bill is a good step in the right direction.”

Agriculture commissioner Ryan Quarles, who represented Scott County as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, applauded the action.

“It’s a clarification that has been attempted for several years now,” Quarles said. “As agriculture commissioner, I always remind people of the economic impact that horses have in Kentucky. It’s a signature industry, one that creates literally tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars of investment here in Kentucky. As I continue my term as commissioner, I will be supporting not only our family farms, but our family horse farmers as well.”

Said Sen. Dorsey Ridley of Henderson, whose district includes Ellis Park: “It just puts them all (livestock) in one classification. It’s an effort to make sure that horses are certainly not taken advantage of, but by the same token, it’s to protect our property. I was glad to be a part of it. It is a big thing for the Thoroughbred industry — and for all horses.”

“This legislation is a significant step for the horse industry and our membership,” said Martin Maline, executive director of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents about 6,000 owners and trainers involved in horse racing in the commonwealth. “The livestock designation offers other important protections for everyone who owns and works with horses. We applaud members of committee, and hope Senator Webb’s bill sails through the full Senate and state legislature.”

Clabes added, “I’d like to congratulate Senator Webb, Chairman (Paul) Hornback, and Majority Floor Leader Thayer in advancing this long awaited legislation. Success in Frankfort doesn’t happen overnight and they and many of their colleagues in the Senate and the House have put in a lot of work on this issue over the years.”

 

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature horse industry. Support for KEEP’s activity comes directly from the horse industry and horse industry supporters. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

 

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KEEP Day Connects KEEP Members with Friends in the Legislature, Old and New

KEEP members discussed the importance of horses to Kentucky’s economy.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Friday, Feb. 24, 2017) — Kentucky equine-industry participants and supporters got the chance to emphasize the important impact horses have on the state and local economies during visits with state legislators on Wednesday’s KEEP Day in Frankfort organized by the Kentucky Equine Education Project.

Several dozen stake-holders in Kentucky’s $4 billion horse industry told an array of lawmakers their individual stories and advocated for state sales tax exemption for feed, equipment and supplies, equal to that provided to other livestock.

Edmonton County’s Linda Starnes, a team leader in KEEP’s state-wide grassroots network who owns, trains and shows Tennessee Walking Horses, said the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund (KBIF) is a tribute to all breeds in the state working together to enhance the overall horse industry. The KBIF, whose creation was spear-headed by KEEP working with legislators, provides funding for non-racing breeds and is largely financed by sales tax on Thoroughbred stud fees. This month, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission released $940,000 from the KBIF to non-race breeds, bringing the total distributed since the fund’s 2005 inception to $10.8 million.

“If it wasn’t for the horse-racing industry, we wouldn’t have the Breeders’ Incentive Fund program,” Starnes said. “And if we didn’t have the Breeders’ Incentive Fund Program, this kind of horse-showing wouldn’t be happening; it would be gone.”
Sen. Robin Webb of Grayson County, a member of the executive committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, said the KBIF is attracting horses from non-racing breeds to Kentucky, resulting in a huge surge in competitions.

“It helps infuse money into our local economies, maintains facilities and provides opportunity to show and utilize your horses and equines of all kinds,” Webb said. “… The numbers don’t tell the tale of the impact. You can’t look at that ledger book and make a valid assessment of the impact, because it’s so far greater than that.”

Said Rep. James Kay of Versailles: “We absolutely benefit from the horse industry every day in ways that people don’t always understand. We need to do a better job articulating that, and showing the economic driver that the industry is for our people.”

Agreed Rep. Adam Koenig, whose district includes Turfway Park: “There are so many jobs associated with horses, horse racing. People like green space and open space. It adds to the economy in so many ways through direct and indirect jobs. Obviously it’s our signature industry – in large part our identity.”

Rep. Kelly Flood of Lexington said KEEP has done a good job focusing on the economic benefits of the industry.

“That’s what it’s about, if you don’t have horses in your district,” she said of the legislature. “Not everybody has the bourbon industry in their district. But the bourbon industry is good for the whole commonwealth. You have to do the same thing with all our signature industries.”

KEEP Day in Frankfort

Horse industry supporters across the state are urged to “Join the Herd!”

LEXINGTON, KY — The Kentucky Equine Education Project has scheduled KEEP Day in Frankfort during the 2017 legislative session for Wednesday, February 22, making it easy for those involved in the industry to meet with their state legislators to discuss the importance of horses to their districts’ economy.

“Twenty-eight new legislators were elected in the Kentucky State House of Representatives in the November elections, ushering in a change in leadership for the first time in nearly 100 years,” said Joe Clabes, KEEP’s executive director. “With important topics like tax reform expected to be considered in 2017, we need to educate new and returning members on the important role horses play in Kentucky’s economy and there are no better messengers than their own constituents.”

Horses of all breeds form a $4 billion industry in the commonwealth, supporting an estimated 100,000 direct and indirect jobs, spanning all 120 counties. Kentucky is home to 35,000 operations with at least one horse, totaling 242,400 equines (including mules and donkeys) and $23.4 billion in value when including related assets, according to a University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture survey.

KEEP’s top priority for 2017 remains the push for equine sales-tax equity, achieving the same exemption from 6% sales tax on feed, equipment and supplies that other livestock producers receive.

Clabes added, “We urge all supporters of Kentucky’s horse industry to ‘Join the Herd’ in Frankfort on February 22. There has never been a better opportunity to build relationships with our representatives in Frankfort to present a unified voice for the advancement of our horse economy.”

Those wanting to meet with their State Senator and/or Representative as part of KEEP Day can go to horseswork.com/advocacy and confirm their attendance by simply filling in their name and address. Their specific Senator and Representative will be automatically notified. Legislators will set up appointments for constituents by either email or going through KEEP in order to accommodate multiple members from their districts. Those interested in attending can also call KEEP at (859) 259-0007, and KEEP staff will help arrange appointments with legislators. The KEEP team will be in contact with all registrants prior to February 20 to provide additional information.

The first twenty attendees to register will receive a special gift. Upon their arrival in Frankfort on February 22, they’ll be given a 12 X 19” print signed by Courier-Journal photographer Michael Clevenger of his 2015 Eclipse Award-winning photo of American Pharoah clinching the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stake, with jockey Victor Espinoza looking back at the field far in his wake.

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature horse industry. Support for KEEP’s activity comes directly from the horse industry and its supporters. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

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