HORSE Sport Ireland outlined an ambitious and strong case to Government, lobbying for over €33 million for the sport horse sector as Budget Day looms.

TDs and Senators across the political spectrum attended HSI’s pre-Budget submission event in Dublin this week, many expressing support amid warnings of a myriad of pressing demands on the Government coffers.

CEO Denis Duggan, joined by chairman Joe Reynolds, Head of Sport, Legal and Governance, Avalon Everett, and Head of Finance John Moran, outlined the case on behalf of the industry for a multi-million euro injection ahead of the Budget. A €9 million fodder and feed scheme was included in a bid to boost equine welfare this coming winter while additionally, HSI is looking for €80 million for the equine sector under future TAMS funding.

Chairman of HSI, Joe Reynolds commented: “The big ask here comes to €33 million, divided into a number of key areas. We are asking for this Budget funding as a business, there is a return on this money, it does lead to a growth in jobs, a rise in economic activity. From the Aga Khan win - where we had three Irish-breds on Ireland’s winning team - down to the underage equestrian team medals, I believe we are in a golden age of Irish equestrianism. This industry filters down to every parish in Ireland.”

CEO Denis Duggan said: “We are asking today for €33.5 million in our Budget submission on top of a separate €80 million under TAMS over the next four years for the equine sector. The ask is substantial but so is this industry. There is 14,000 full-time jobs and it is generating over €1 billion into the Irish economy. That’s the key message we are saying to Government. The industry needs support.”

Ten primary areas were identified by the HSI team in their Budget submission including breeding and production support, capital investment for regional equestrian centres, equine farming investment, marketing and sales supports, anti-doping measures and funding for equestrian Skillnet.

Key submission points included:

  • Industry wide upgrade to e-passporting - €2.8 million
  • Anti-doping programme investment - €500,000
  • Capital investment scheme to upgrade equestrian centres - €4 million
  • Skillnet Equestrian funding - €400,000
  • High Performance sport increase - €1.2 million
  • Participation Grants increase - €6.5 million
  • Breeding and production supports increase - €15.5 million
  • International marketing supports - €1.5 million
  • Irish-Bred incentive Sales Voucher support - €1 million
  • Total: €33,400,000.
  • TAMS campaign

    Additional to the above €33.5 million, Horse Sport Ireland also made the case for €80 million in TAMS funding (over the lifetime of the next CAP programme 2023-2027) for critical infrastructure for equine farming.

    During Dublin Horse Show week, HSI launched ‘The Business of Breeding’ report which forms much of the data backdrop to this week’s Budget submission. That report outlined how industry stakeholders injected €394 million into the equine sector, thoroughbred and sport horse in 2021.

    Some 78% of survey respondents identified rising costs as the greatest challenge to their equine business while the data showed that 83% of participants had fewer than 10 horses and 52% had no other farming enterprise such as beef or sheep. On average equine breeders farm 65 acres of land and 79% of those that did not have a second farming enterprise (beef, dairy, sheep, etc.) received no supports or scheme payments.

    Fodder and Feed scheme

    With as many as 11,000 equine farmers of the 27,000 DAFM-registered Equine Premises not in receipt of other farming payment, this cohort is currently ineligible for existing DAFM fodder support measures.

    HSI is lobbying for the creation of a specific Fodder Scheme for non-basic payment scheme (BPS) recipient equine farmers. It is envisioned that this scheme would be capped at €100 per horse up to a maximum of 10 horses per claimant, a total of €1,000 to support the purchase of feed. The entire scheme could cost up to €9 million for equine farmers outside the BPS.

    Equestrian Centres

    Over 163 AIRE approved equestrian centres nationwide - mainly family owned - are currently exempt from the Sports Capital and Equipment Programme (SCEP) which has supported over 13,000 programmes to the tune of over €1 billion. HSI’s Budget submission lobbied for the inclusion of equestrian centre upgrades and capital improvements under SCEP, asking for ‘at least €6 million in funding allocated specifically for equestrian centres’.