Commencing in the 2017-18 financial year, a new levy will support priority research, development and extension activities to address thoroughbred industry challenges and opportunities.

This levy provides greater certainty about future RD&E funding for investment in longer term projects.

Key components of the program

Along with breeding productivity and research into reducing horse diseases and parasites, the program may explore:

  • Research to reduce injury and breakdown of horses in work and training
  • Improve the safety of industry participants
  • Enhance the environmental sustainability of the industry.

About the industry

Australia has the second largest thoroughbred breeding industry in the world after the United States, with 660 stud farms across the country, predominantly in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

These stud farms supply thoroughbred horses to both the domestic and overseas markets. In the 2014–15 season, 19,368 mares were covered to produce 12,871 live foals.

Australia stages more races with more runners than most of Western Europe combined, with Australian-bred mare Winx the top-rated racehorse on turf in the world in 2017.

The thoroughbred racing industry is worth approximately $5 billion/annum to the Australian economy, and employs more than 65,000 people, particularly in rural and regional areas.


The program is funded by statutory levies paid by industry participants. It is set at a rate of $10/mare covered per season, paid by the stallion owner and $10/mare returned per season, paid by the broodmare owner.

AgriFutures Australia receives the Research & Development levy allocation to invest in line with the industry objectives of the Strategic RD&E Plan. AgriFutures Australia also receives matching funding from the Australian Government, allocated to the Program at 50c per dollar of the program’s eligible expenditure.

Industry Advisory Panel

AgriFutures Australia is committed to working with industry to deliver research and development outcomes. We work in partnership with advisory panels to decide on research priorities and to make investment decisions each year.

RD&E plan

AgriFutures Australia is currently developing a five-year RD&E plan for the AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.

AgriFutures Australia has undertaken R&D for the broader horse industry since 1995, and delivered valuable outcomes such as improvements in equine neonatal care​.

Program news


Annelies McGaw
Manager, Research
02 6923 6913
0407 987 738

About your levy

Australian primary industries that choose to invest in the levies system prescribe the amount of levy or charge applied to a commodity under the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Act 1999Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999, National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Act 1998 and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998.

Levy and charge revenue can be directed to biosecurity preparedness and emergency plant pest and animal disease responses, residue testing, marketing and research and development. It is the decision of a primary industry to determine the proportion of how a levy or charge is directed to each of these activities.

The Levy is collected and distributed via the Department of Agriculture. For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment website.

AgriFutures Australia also receives Commonwealth matching funding based on 0.5% of the aggregate GVP of all AgriFutures Australia’s levied industries (Arena 3) or half of AgriFutures Australia’s eligible expenditure – whichever is the lesser. This includes expenditure in non-levied industries Arenas 1, 2 and 4 irrespective of their funding source.

AgriFutures Australia’s Board allocates the Commonwealth matching funding to each levied industry program. The respective programs will receive 50c per dollar of eligible expenditure (subject to availability of Commonwealth matching funding).

The total program budget comprises of the R&D levy allocation, Commonwealth matching funding (allocated by the AgriFutures Australia Board) and third party contributions (where appropriate). The graphs below represent the levy breakdown and the annual Program investment.

View the AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program income and expenditure statement for 2019-20.

Related Publications


Final report summary: Non-invasive ventilatory support of foals


Final report summary: Understanding and reducing the effects of heat stress on thoroughbred stallion fertility


Project overview: Science fact not fiction - Detecting gene edited racehorses


Final Report Summary: Computational modelling of limb loads from galloping horses on different tracks

Related Resources

Search regions suitable for thoroughbred horses

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AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program Industry Update Vol.2 No.2

Improving diagnosis & preventing pregnancy loss, Racing to improve jockey safety and meet Dr Aleona Swegen

Read more

AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program Industry Update Vol.2 No.1

Science fact not fiction: Detecting gene edited racehorses. No horsing around when it comes to equine fertility. And an update on current projects.


AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program Industry Update Vol.1 No.5

Project updates from our AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.


AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program Industry Update Vol.1 No.4

Program updates from our AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.


AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program Industry Update April 2019

Project updates from our AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.


AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program Industry Update January 2019

Project updates from our AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.


AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program Industry Update November 2018

Project updates from our AgriFutures Thoroughbred Horses Program.


Latest News and Events


Cowpea aphid infestations linked to photosensitisation in thoroughbred horses

Horse owners are urged to check pastures regularly and take necessary precautions to prevent Cowpea aphid outbreaks on their lucerne or lucerne mix pastures to reduce the likelihood of photosensitisation occurring in their horses


Fact vs fiction: A new tool to detect gene editing in thoroughbred horses

Critical to protecting the welfare of thoroughbred horses and the integrity of the industry is efficiently detecting the illegal practice of gene editing. Gene editing, a method of gene doping used to artificially and illegally enhance performance in human and animal athletes, is now on the agenda for the thoroughbred horse industry.