FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2013) — Kentucky horse breeding farms are now eligible to apply for certain federal relief from disasters affecting agriculture, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Tuesday.
Equine farms which produce breeding stock for commercial use as a part of their farming operation and claim the horse breeding stock for tax purposes with the IRS may be eligible for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Conservation Program (ECP).
The change follows repeated requests from the governor to the USDA to reconsider their disaster relief policies for these horse farms. Since Beshear took office in 2008, the state has experienced 11 federally-declared disasters, including flooding, ice storms and tornadoes. All but two of the state’s 120 counties have been included in at least one disaster, and Kentucky has the 7th-highest frequency of federal natural disasters in the country. This summer’s extreme drought was classified as an agricultural disaster.
“The horse breeding industry is a vital segment of Kentucky’s agricultural economy, and it’s important that these farms have access to this program when natural disasters strike,” Beshear said. “Our continued communications with USDA helped them to understand the unique composition and needs of farms in our state. The USDA has been receptive and compassionate in their consideration of our farm families, and I thank them and the administration for their thoughtful and substantive response to our concerns.”
The program provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and for implementing emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought. Funding for ECP is appropriated by Congress, and the program is administered by state and county Farm Service Agency (FSA) committees.
In communications with USDA, Beshear had asked that Kentucky horse breeding operations be considered eligible for the program, to help them recover quickly after natural disasters. FSA recently updated its handbook, reflecting the eligibility.
“We appreciate USDA rethinking the eligibility of horse breeding farms for the Emergency Conservation Program and clarifying that they are indeed eligible,” said Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council. “This will benefit those horse farms and ranches hard hit by disasters. Gov. Beshear, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders (KTOB) and the American Horse Council deserve a lot of credit for working with the Department of Agriculture to finally get this resolved favorably for breeders.”
Approximately 600 commercial breeding operations in Kentucky, representing all breeds, are now eligible to apply for ECP funds, according to the KTOB.