A recent agreement between the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Chinese government could prove to be a significant boost for the state’s struggling horse industry. The Maryland thoroughbred industry has been on the decline in recent years, partly due to competition from neighboring states and partly due to political inertia and a general unwillingness to protect the industry.
On the surface, China seems an unlikely venue to revive the thoroughbred industry. Horseracing is illegal in China and the cost to ship horses is significant. However, Maryland horse breeders see a golden opportunity in the recent Chinese interest in Maryland horses. Currently, Maryland horses are already shipped internationally, and adding China to the list would do much to boost revenues.
Larry Murray, owner of Glade Valley Horse Farms, predicts that China might legalize horseracing and sees the importation of Maryland thoroughbreds, currently used in Western style riding demonstrations in China, as a critical step towards that goal. Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance has also praised the sales, lauding Maryland horses’ genetic quality.
Maryland horse breeders are hopeful that the federal government could soon see the value in these sorts of trade agreements. While the horse-trade is legal, some breeders have claimed that minor regulations are currently adding an unwanted level of difficulty in their sales.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer