Federation Board OKs Adding Equine Division
The Alabama Farmers Federation has approved the addition of a new Equine Division to serve the needs and interests of all horse breeds and rider interests and disciplines.”The addition of an equine division is an opportunity for the state’s largest general farm organization to reach out to a new segment of agriculture,” Jerry A. Newby, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, said following the vote by the Board of Directors on July 30. “Horses are both a big hobby and a big business to many of our members — almost 200,000 head in Alabama alone. Many of our members are horse owners, and we’re eager to better serve them as well as welcome new members into our fold.”The addition of an Equine Division will raise to 17 the number of commodities now represented by the Federation. Other livestock commodities already represented include cattle, pork, poultry, catfish, meat goat and sheep.”The new Equine Division will offer us an opportunity for the Federation and the county Federations to reach out and attract new members in a commodity-related program and public policy arena,” said Jimmy Carlisle, director of the Federation’s Commodity Department. “This will not only strengthen the county organizations but the Federation as a whole.”Federation members first urged the organization to investigate the possibility of adding an equine division at its 85th Annual Meeting in Mobile last December. A 2006 survey of the state’s horse industry by Auburn University showed more than 89,000 Alabama households are involved with horses in some form, and that the state’s equine industry has an economic impact of $573 million annually.An additional survey by an Equine Study Committee selected by respective county Federations showed that the state’s horse industry was represented by almost 25 different organizations, but lacked a single voice on such equine issues of horse health, marketing and promotions, facilities, etc. That’s why news of the new Equine Division was welcomed by horse breeder Jerry Hill of Lawrence County.”This gives us a voice to be heard,” said Hill. “Jerry Hill alone isn’t going to get much attention, but Jerry Hill and a hundred other people can. That’s why I’m glad to see this.”Hill, who operates a Quarter horse breeding business, said he’s hoping the Federation will be able to help on such matters as the proposed federal horse slaughter ban, promotion of the state’s horse industry, health issues, disaster funding, etc.”It’ll be good to have a voice that would be heard over whatever issue may arise,” said Hill’s son and business partner, Wade Hill. “It takes all of us to have the horse business be a business — it wouldn’t work with just one. Whether it’s the trail riders or the cutters or the walking horse people or the gaited horse people, it takes all.”The board’s approval now initiates the formation of a State Equine Committee, which will be elected from a slate of county commodity chairmen and first and second vice-chairmen at the Commodity Organization Conference in Birmingham on Feb. 5-7.