Barr Lauds Kentucky Equine Industry During KY Derby Week
In honor of the upcoming 140th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 3, 2014, Congressman Andy Barr spoke about the men and women who dedicate their lives to Kentucky's signature horse industry, and the significant economic and jobs impact of this industry on Kentucky and beyond.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to highlight an industry that is at the very center of the culture and economy of Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District – our signature equine industry. Central Kentucky is rightfully designated as, quote, the "Horse Capitol of the World." But this is a little title that we happily share with our neighbors in the city of Louisville on the first Saturday of May. As we celebrate the highlight of the thoroughbred racing season, the annual running of the Kentucky Derby, the “Run for the Roses," I want to also acknowledge the men and women who dedicate their lives to our signature horse industry, and the significant economic and jobs impact of this industry in Kentucky and beyond.
When you think of the Kentucky Derby, "the fastest two minutes in sports," you think of Aristides and the first running of the Kentucky Derby in 1875. You think of Orb who run the Derby last year in 2013, and all of the great thoroughbred horses who came in between, from Sir Barton in 1919, the first triple crown winner, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral who was, of course, in that duel with Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, and then in modern times, Secretariat, the fastest running of the Kentucky Derby in 1973, Seattle Slew, the triple crown winner in 1977. And the last triple crown winner, Affirmed, in 1978.
Despite the growing popularity of the thoroughbred racing industry and the vast number of our constituents that enjoy equine recreation, many Americans remain unaware of the significant impacts of the horse industry on our modern economy. The horse industry has a significant presence in at least 45 states and across many different facets of the economy. According to a comprehensive study by the American Horse Council, the nation's 9.2 million horses created $102 billion dollars in annual economic activity. This economic engine supports 1.4 million full-time jobs and in our Commonwealth, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is estimated that 80,000 to 100,000 people owe their jobs to our signature horse industry.
While many outside the industry perceive thoroughbred racing, perhaps, as a sport only reserved for the rich and famous, we in Kentucky know differently. We know this is simply not the case. Horse farms in my district range anywhere from small family operations with fewer than 20 acres and only a half dozen mares, to world renowned breeding operations that attract thousands of mares from across the globe. Further, these farms support a myriad of related industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, retail, tourism, just to name a few. And I would invite anybody watching on c-span to come to central Kentucky and visit some of our world famous horse farms. Clearly this is an industry that brings people with an affinity and passion for horses together, regardless of their socioeconomic background.
Kentucky's horse industry is critical to our economy, which is why I have led a number of efforts in congress to promote the equine industry. I serve as the Chairman of the Congressional Horse Caucus, and this caucus serves as a forum to provide members of Congress the opportunity to learn about the impact of government policies that impact the equine industry and to collaborate with government leaders and industry stakeholders from across the country.
I've introduced two bills impacting the tax treatment of horses. The first bill, H.R. 998, is titled, the Equine Tax Parody Act. This would eliminate the 44-year-old tax provision that discourages investment in the equine industry and discriminates against equine assets.
The second bill, H.R. 2212, titled, the Racehorse Cost Recovery Act of 2013, would make permanent the three-year depreciation schedule for horses, for racehorses, which is critical to the health of Kentucky's horseracing industry as well as job growth in other horse-related industries. I plan to continue my efforts to advance these critical bills and I urge my colleagues in the House to contact my office if they wish to join the Congressional Horse Caucus or support these important legislative and job creating initiatives.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, as we gather with friends and family this Saturday, the first Saturday in May, to watch the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby, again, the “fastest two minutes in sports," let's not forget to honor all of the men and women who make this great sport possible. From the farm to the sales to the track and beyond, horses require the love and care of each dedicated professionals at each step along the way and without their efforts, the efforts of the owners, the breeders, the trainers, the farriers, the grooms, the jockeys, the track operators, the employees and all of the people who support the horse industry, without their efforts, our great horse industry, our great pastime simply would not be possible. Thank you, Mr. Speaker and I yield back the balance of my time.