Research into popular Aussie pastime on track

24.10.17

If you enjoy a day at the races, or just partake in the Melbourne Cup Day office sweep, be assured that the research, development and extension (RD&E) into the future of this popular Australian pastime is on track.

Australia’s Thoroughbred industry has plans to enhance its sustainability and prosperity, courtesy of a new levy that will contribute to addressing industry challenges and opportunities.

Managed by AgriFutures Australia, the Thoroughbred R&D Levy will be allocated to research which is identified as a priority by levy payers and is included in a (currently interim) five-year RD&E plan.

The RD&E plan development was led by Professor Nigel Perkins, inaugural Thoroughbred Advisory Panel Chair and a nationally and internationally recognised leader in veterinary epidemiology.

“The concept is to use research to address real life problems in the Thoroughbred industry from breeding mares to racing horses to post-race careers,” said Professor Perkins.

Two projects have been identified for immediate development.

The first is measurement of the economic benefit of the thoroughbred breeding and racing sectors and the second is understanding the factors that influence horse well-being from pregnancy to racing.

“These are the foundation projects that will guide the panel,” said Professor Perkins.

“Information from these two projects, which complement each other, will help the panel understand the priorities for future research.”

Key objectives of the RD&E plan are to:

  • improve breeding outcomes and foal health and development
  • reduce the incidence and impact of diseases and parasites in horses
  • improve the safety of industry participants and the welfare of horses and enhance the sustainability of the industry
  • promote education and training for the horse industry
  • support industry planning, economic benefit studies and market research
  • reduce injury and breakdown of horses

“The panel is keen to ensure that the levy investment from stakeholders is used for relevant projects quickly, to provide clear evidence that the panel is functioning,” Professor Perkins said.

Professor Perkins said further consultation and feedback will be sought from stakeholders over the coming six months, to adjust or amend the interim plan’s objectives, as needed.

The industry levy commenced in September 2017 and is set at a rate of $10 per mare covered per season, paid by the stallion owner and $10 per mare returned per season, paid by the broodmare owner.

Approximately $400,000 is expected to be collected from the levy each year and the Australian Government will match expenditure by AgriFutures Australia dollar-for-dollar on eligible Thoroughbred RD&E.

There are 21,500 broodmares and 700 stallions in the Australian Thoroughbred industry, which includes a mix of small-scale owners representing the grassroots and also high-end individuals and international entities.

From 1995-2015 the organisation managed the Horse RD&E Program which was funded through voluntary industry financial contributions drawn from a wide range of industry bodies.

The Horse RD&E Program was for the broader horse industry and delivered valuable outcomes such as improvements in equine neonatal care​.

Over the last few years of the Horse RD&E Program, industry consultation was undertaken to explore options for transition of the program from reliance on voluntary contributions to a statutory levy.

This process culminated in submission of a formal proposal, for implementation of a statutory levy, from Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) with the support of Racing Australia (RA). The Thoroughbred R&D levy was approved in 2016.

Fast facts

  • The Thoroughbred R&D levy is set at a rate of $10 per mare covered per season, paid by the stallion owner and $10 per mare returned per season paid by the broodmare owner
  • Approximately $400,000 is expected to be collected from the Thoroughbred R&D levy each year
  • The Australian Government will match expenditure by AgriFutures Australia dollar-for-dollar on eligible Thoroughbred RD&E
  • There are 21,500 broodmares and 700 stallions in the Australian Thoroughbred industry
AgriFutures™ Thoroughbred Horses Program