THE equine industry is well established in Northern Ireland and provides both economic and social benefits for society. It is wide and diverse, with many sectors all contributing in some way to job creation, health and wellbeing and the rural economy. There are a lot of very enthusiastic people, who invest countless hours caring for their horses and ponies in following their passion, whether that is professionally or for recreation.
As in any industry, it is important however to take stock from time to time, to review the current position, assess the value of the industry and identify areas of potential growth.
To this end, DAERA has commissioned Deloitte Consulting to undertake an independent and comprehensive review of the equine industry. A key element of this review is gathering information and so an extensive consultation was launched on August 23 by Deloitte Consulting, targeting all sectors of the equine industry. This is your opportunity to help inform the review and I would encourage all involved to ensure your views are heard by completing the online survey, which remains open until September 30. I am pleased this survey is being issued through Citizen Space and it can be accessed from the DAERA website’s homepage, under the Quick Links section and on several Northern Ireland government and equine social media platforms.
I want this report to provide government and the industry with information about the value of the industry, as well as recommendations on how to improve, develop and grow the sector to deliver both economic and social benefits for everyone. In other words, fill in the gaps of the current evidence base and identify the unknown.
We do have recent evidence from the Republic of Ireland for the Thoroughbred and sport horse sectors, which showed that its respective equine sectors are generating economic value and growth. For example, in the Republic, the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry in 2016 was estimated at €1.84 billion, with direct, indirect and associated employment of approximately 28,900. The Irish Sport Horse industry in 2017 is reported to have provided a contribution of more than €816 million to the Irish economy, with just over 14,000 full-time job equivalents. I hope this review will provide evidence of the contribution the equine industry makes to the Northern Ireland economy.
Download the survey from the DAERA website (external link opens in a new window / tab).
Following on from the review and its subsequent analysis, I expect a report by the end of the year. It is widely known that all Departments are facing tighter budgetary constraints and going forward any government funding for this industry, must be able to demonstrate value for money and to ensure that funding will produce a beneficial impact on the economic and societal wellbeing for the people and communities in Northern Ireland. We will be able to use the information from the review to help support any case we make for future funding of the Northern Ireland equine industry. I hope the report will also provide recommendations for both Government and industry to allow the sector to grow and fully realise its potential.
Therefore, again I would encourage everyone in Northern Ireland involved in the equine sectors to participate in the analysis. With such a diverse range of stakeholders, it is important that all views are heard, this is your opportunity by completing the survey before September 30.