More than 68 percent of eligible horse owners have voted to approve the collection of an assessment of $3 per ton, or $0.075 per 50-pound bag of manufactured equine feed, sold or imported for sale in Virginia.

The Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services authorized the referendum which was conducted by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

The establishment of the assessment will mean an estimated addition of $200,000 per fiscal year for the Horse Industry Board to use to support legislatively mandated promotion and economic development programs to further enhance Virginia’s equine industry.

Funds collected will be used by the Board for market development, education, publicity, research, and promotion.

Voters in the assessment referendum were limited to equine owners in the Commonwealth who executed and submitted to the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services an affidavit verifying Virginia residency, legal voting age, and confirmation of equine ownership.

After the April 14, 2006 deadline for completed ballots, a panel of judges counted the ballots and certified the results of the referendum to the Commissioner, who then certified the results to the Governor.

In 2001, the last year for which data is available, the total value of all equine in Virginia was over $1.4 billion. In 2001 equine expenditures such as equipment, tack, feed, bedding, veterinarian fees, boarding and training amounted to an additional $504,786,000.