The Maryland Department of Agriculture hosted an Equine Export Seminar on Jan. 26, focusing primarily on opportunities abroad for the exportation of Maryland-bred horses for the Korean and Russian racing industries. Participants included representatives from the Maryland racing and breeding industries, Russia and Korea, and Bob Schaffer from BWI.

Jay Bang from Triple Crown and Tae Shin, S& K Trading gave an optimistic overview of the Korean market. Thousands of U.S. racehorses have been exported to Korea since 1997. The market continues to grow and the purchase price is increasing, too. For the Russian presentation Vadim Bochkarev, a SABIT Intern from Russia and Dr. Ted Williams, USDA/ APHIS presented a more challenging report on the Russian Horse Market. The US has Russian equine export opportunities but the outdated Russian health protocol is creating ex- port issues. Bob Shaffer from Baltimore Washington International Airport presented an initiative to opening BWI to international livestock flight service. One of the purposes of the Maryland Department of Agriculture is to develop new markets for Maryland-made products (and this would include Maryland-bred horses), and The Equiery applauds this effort. However, MDA’s primary focus is on sales and exportation. The Equiery hopes to see an equal focus on developing import facilities at BWI, but recognizes that this initiative may have to come from another state agency, such as the Department of Economic Development. We do not know, but are interested in learning, the comparative number of imports and exports in the Mid-Atlantic area. We do know that sport horse owners and breeders in the Mid-Atlantic area import a tremendous number of horses, including European warmbloods, Irish hunters (and not just for hunting), New Zealand eventers. The mid-Atlantic area is also home to probably the highest concentration of international competitors in the country, riders who are frequently flying their horses abroad for competition (you should see the frequent fl yer miles these horses rack up). We know that no one is happy with the routine of bringing their horses in through New York, and no one really wants to bring their horses in through the heat of Florida.

And import facility at BWI offers a tremendous business opportunity for Maryland, and the location could not be better. Not only is it strategically located near two major north-south highways, it is also mere miles from the USDA’s headquarters for their department that oversees the inspection of horses entering the U.S.—APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Services) is located in Riverdale, Maryland, near College Park.

Obviously, an import facility will need broad support, not only from the Governor and the legislators, but also from our representatives on Capitol Hill, as it will take our federal legislators to find a way to budget for USDA-APHIS to oversee a livestock quarantine import facility at or near BWI.