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Equine Feed Checkoff Referendum

Livestock Update, March 2006

Celeste C. Crisman Extension Equine Youth Specialist, VA Tech

Horse owners can vote yea or neigh on Equine Feed Checkoff referendum. If you are 18 or older and own a horse in Virginia, you can vote this spring on a proposed program to support promotion of the state's horse industry.

In 2005, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation authorizing a statewide referendum of eligible horse owners on the question of creating a horse feed "checkoff" assessment.

The feed checkoff, if approved, would be a self imposed assessment to fund market development, education, publicity, research and promotion for the horse industry. Many agricultural commodities have state or national checkoffs, including beef cattle, dairy and pork industries.

The Virginia Horse Industry Board currently utilizes money raised through the equine industry to conduct programs in market development, education, publicity, research and promotion of Virginia's equine industry. Monies from the feed checkoff would enhance the VHIB's ability to fund these programs.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is holding the referendum, which would authorize a tax of $3 per ton on horse feed sold or imported for sale in Virginia. That works out to 7.5 cents per 50-pound bag of horse feed. It is estimated that the average horse in Virginia eats one ton of feed per year making the cost of the checkoff approximately $3.00 per horse per year. The feed checkoff assessment would be formulated into the retail price of manufactured feed labeled for equine and paid to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

To be eligible to vote in the feed checkoff referendum you must submit an official notarized affidavit to VDACS by April 14, 2006. The affidavit form and instructions are available at the VDACS web site at (look for the horse icon on the home page) or can be requested by mail by calling VDACS at 804-786-3952.

Once your voter eligibility has been certified by VDACS, you will be mailed a ballot on April 28, 2006. Completed ballots must be delivered by mail or in person to VDACS' Richmond office no later that 5:00 p.m. on May 26, 2006.

Judges appointed by the department's commissioner will count the completed ballots and certify the referendum results. The commissioner will announce the results by June 5 and present them to Gov. Tim Kaine and the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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