Drought Issues Scoping Paper
Research Papers
Council Inc

The following is a Discussion Paper on Identification of the Drought Issues affecting the Australian Harness Racing Industry.

Warren Truss, MP, Federal Minister for Agriculture has responded this paper in a letter dated 22nd June 2003.  Click here to view.

Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, Federal Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer has also responded in her letter of 23rd June 2003.  Click here to view.

Rod Pollock
Chief Executive
Australian Harness Racing Council

February 2003

Index - Scoping Paper
Composition of Working Party   Export Facilitation  
Executive Overview   Climatic Conditions Forecast  
Recommendations   Past Experience – National Statistics, NSW Focus  
National Registrations 1990 – 2002   Industry Internal Factors for Assessment  
Objective   State Controlling Body Evaluation  
Key Stakeholders   Affected Industry Participant Segments  
Key Implications   Conducting Clubs Survey  
Stock, Fire, Feed & Water Elements   Information Sourcing  
Key Questions for the Longevity of our Industry   Information & Statistics Requirement  
Brief Outlook of Current Government and Corporate Environment      
  • Helen Boyd (Chair), Deputy Chairperson, QHRB
  • Rod Pollock, Chief Executive AHRC
  • Kevin Neilson, Chief Executive HRTas
  • Tony Collins, Registrar, HRA NSW
  • Duncan McPherson, General Manager, Strategic Planning & Product Development, HRV

Note: Dr Diane Ryan (Deputy Chairperson, HRNSW) retired from the position of Chair of the Working Party upon the appointment of the new Board of the Harness Racing Authority, New South Wales in early February 2003. Helen Boyd (Deputy Chairperson, QHRB) then took up this role.


1. The Scope of the Drought is limited geographically to parts of Victoria and New South Wales.

2. The cost of feed inputs and transport logistics have escalated considerably.

3. The Trend is to breed less standardbreds and there are less foals born. When combined with wastage future supply of the existing race product at the current level is unrealistic given the current future implications of the drought on breeding.

4. State Controlling Body Funding is limited and fully committed at this time of the financial year so any short term solutions are not capable of implementation.


(i) Harness Racing must pursue the Federal Government to gain Primary Industry status and Taxation deductibility for all industry participants similar to other livestock industries and be eligible for similar Federal and State Government Drought Assistance mechanisms.

(ii) All key External Stakeholders must recognise and encourage the breeding and racing cycles of the standardbred together with acknowledging the economic dimensions of the equine industry to foster its medium and long term maintenance as a traditional wagering industry as lack of numbers will threaten its existence as a "preferred" wagering and gaming product.

(iii) The Administrators of Harness Racing must devise innovative and novel methods through programming and handicapping to encourage returns to the owners and breeders of all standardbreds to promote participation in breeding, racing then breeding again irrespective of racetrack performance ability for the supply of racing product.

(iv) Each State Controlling Body must evaluate their existing Breeding Scheme to consider its future impact on the delivery of increased breeding numbers and take positive steps to incent Owners/Breeders.

(v) Research is required on breeding efficiency (Services to Foals), Training Methodology (Foals to Starters) together with the development of profiles on breeders and owners with a view to identifying areas and issues, which can be evaluated.

(vi) An integrated marketing and incentive plan at a range of levels specifically targeting breeders and owners then requires preparation and implementation with a specific dedicated Budget arrangement at the State Controlling Body level. Principal and other Clubs should be actively encouraged to also participate in this initiative.

(vii) A specific mechanism which allows breeders and broodmare owners(s) to meet, combine and "do a deal" should be designed with limited administrative impediments to encourage breeding and remove "verbal" deals.

(viii) Various specific and detailed areas are incorporated in the Report and should be evaluated for implementation.

1990 - 2002

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Source: Compiled by AHRC from State Controlling Body Information.

This is an exercise in Issues identification to highlight areas of future investigation and research to focus investigation and resources for the Australian Harness Racing Industry. It is designed to identify and compliment what each State jurisdiction is doing for its own industry participants.


  • All Members of the Australian Harness Racing Council, particularly State Controlling Bodies because of their Regulatory Role.
  • Emphasis on Breeders, Owners and Trainers whose encouragement is critical to the provision of current and future breeding and racing stock.
  • Totalisator Agency Boards and Commercial Entities for the usage of the harness racing product for wagering purposes.
  • All Industry Participants who rely on employment, gain or entertainment/participative engagement in conjunction with the Standardbred for their athletic achievement.
  • State and Federal Governments whose commercial and regulatory environments condition the industry and provide employment etc.


  • Considerable and selective reduction in the breeding and preparation for racing (breaking in etc) areas of the standardbred herd in Victoria (parts) and New South Wales. (Not able to be quantified at this stage because of lack of comprehensive Herd registration numbers and Death Notification advices to SCB’s).
  • Considerable reduction in this season’s breeding in the above geographic areas. (Not able to be quantified at this stage but will be when the Sires Summary Sheets are returned (due end March say early May 2003).
  • Lack of retention by trainers of marginally performing standardbred racehorses with high consequential wastage rates.
  • Reduced ability to either put a standardbred racehorse "away in a paddock" or allow to age, mature and develop.
  • Reduced further capability to provide breeding stock and racing product in future seasons.
  • Various industry participants maybe exiting the important roles of owner, breeder and trainer from our industry.
  • Significant escalation in all cost inputs for our industry.


STOCK Standardbred herd in survival mode in certain geographic areas.
STOCK Significant reduction in breeding program with a difference between wet and dry mares utilised.
STOCK Culling as horse welfare issue through lack of feed, pasture etc.
STOCK Minimal "dogged" value incapable of promoting replacement value for investment stock in the future.
STOCK Escalated price structures as demand rises despite livestock herd culling and export fodder supply increases.
STOCK Inability of owners, breeders and trainers to retain stock.
FIRE Bushfire – widespread occurrence with consequent herd losses and loss of pasture availability for agistment.
FEED Lack and cost of Agistment availability
FEED Grain cropping and seed stock diminished significantly.
FEED Fodder in various forms having limited availability at high demand prices.
FEED Increased travel and logistics arrangements to provide feed to areas where it is required.
WATER Lack and cost of water as it is a key input in many segments of both the breeding and racing operational areas.
WATER Restrictions on availability of irrigated water in traditionally irrigated areas.
WATER Lack of rainfall in traditional high ground pasture and consequent summer dry-off
  • How can we encourage retention of the standardbred breeding herd?
  • How can we foster information on obtaining the feed inputs for our industry?
  • Should our industry adopt and promote a stance on manufactured or other processed feed alternatives e.g. bagged pellets etc to natural fodder and roughage products.
  • Should regulatory controls on feed, substances etc be reviewed, as contamination is feasible as a consequence?
  • Is our national transport wholesale/retail distribution and information communications system capable of delivering information and value to industry participants at the operational level? Surety of supply through normal channels of distribution, which is a valuable logistics chain.
  • What is the degree of State based Lobbying of State/Ministerial Parliamentarians by State Controlling Bodies on this important issue?

Demand/Supply Notation:

Racing competes actively against other livestock herds for feed and water inputs in the same geographic markets.

In addition, corporate enterprises in the human consumption food manufacturing areas have already executed significant forward purchase contracts to suppliers for production inputs domestically and internationally. They have significant cash provisions to ensure that their business continues. Individual industry participants have difficulty equalling access, volume pricing and future commitment. Industry pooling arrangements would have created higher demand and prices escalated if such arrangements contemplated in this competitive corporate environment.


  • Current Federal Government regulatory and taxation regimes inhibit the positive encouragement of the equine racing codes ability to compete effectively. Similarly, the State Governments should recognise the same proposition whether it is a business or not as primary production for our industry.
  o Lack of Recognition as a Primary Industry and as an agricultural/farming livestock industry with access to Federal Drought Relief Assistance.
  o Lack of Positive Taxation Incentives/Deductions for all industry participants (including "hobbyists") of a broadly focussed nature e.g. Income and GST Tax Regimes unless established as a business entity.
  o Recognition of the importance of owners and breeders as key generators of economic wealth and employment creation throughout Australia by non-allowance of taxation deductions against income/revenue unless established as a business entity.
  o Further recognition, funding and resources for industry specific training as creation of competency/skills for this sector through ANTA etc.
  • Taxation treatment on various taxation takes from TAB wagering when compared to other federal corporate taxation rate alternatives by past negotiated agreements with State Governments upon privatisation. Racing provides a significant revenue stream in this area, which State Governments benefit from extensively. Racing has a number of key positive ingredients attractive to government. It has a clean, green, animal friendly primary livestock industry "image" in characteristics. The traditional focus of wagering is one of skill, knowledge and interpretation of racing information rather than the image created of Casinos and gaming with its reliance on chance and mathematical probability. Racing has a further "good citizen" image as a result, given the widespread community proliferation of gaming machines, their addictiveness and adverse social impact. However racing, other than significant events, are not high priorities within our social community.
  • The effect of the refocussing of Totalisator Agency Boards as shareholder driver organisations under various privatisation agreements and towards gaming alternatives as opposed to racing/wagering, a traditional "economic mature" industry providing a basic core to their activities.
  o Reassessment of the promotion and encouragement of the Racehorse – Standardbred and Thoroughbred.
  o Reassessment of dedicated research development of the racehorse breeding through the Racing Cycle to retirement.
  o Assistance with economic/demographic research modelling on the racing industries.
  • Advancing the argument basis that a number of key TAB organisations and governments have specifically dedicated Community Service Obligations to the Racing Industries in view of their current contribution to the national economic productivity and employment.
  • Government Primary Industry specific recognition is currently limited to traditional agricultural livestock primary industries such as cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep etc. This recognition allows participants in these industries to gain government incentives e.g. fuel incentives, subsidies e.g. export promotion subsidies and other regulatory measures e.g. access and use of specific drug administration protocols. Assistance criteria preclude racing participants from programs.
  • Government action within the current national drought arrangements has focussed on the traditional primary agricultural industries, which share common economic inputs with the equine (racing) industry unless they are categorised as farmers. A difficulty, which is evident in considering the inputs of water, fodder, grain and their allied logistics/transport support together with horse welfare research. Anecdotal information suggests that access to drought assistance is difficult to obtain and subject to eligibility criteria even within the Primary Industry Livestock areas for farmers.
  • Consideration must also be made to the growing volume of exports to the United States and Canada. The difficulty in this area, which is developing, lies in the alternative to encourage the extensively trained local horse to go to another international jurisdiction as opposed to our aim of fostering its continuing racing in Australia. The latter means that currently produced racing product leaves without an adequate replacement because of the drought and the time required to develop another horse. The continuing development of New Zealand exports and consequent reliance by Australia for their racing product is significant when compared to the USA/Canada exports. The weakness of the Australian and New Zealand dollar promotes the continual relocation of our horses to the American continent. However the principle source of revenue for State Controlling Bodies is betting commission through the TAB’s. It is considered that this area requires economic modelling at some future point to accurately dimension the impacts.
  • These exports are now a regular feature to the American continent. The breeding integrity issue of utilising Maxxam Analytics for parental genotyping will only enhance Australia’s breeding reputation. The consolidation of the Australian Registry with that of the United States Trotting Association and Standardbred Canada with a common service provider is a key integrity element for future breeding stock.
  • Australia’s racing and breeding stock are principally of the pacing gait similar to the composition of the American standardbred herd. The regulatory controls in place in Europe inhibit the development of Australian exports given that the principal gait is trotters in this international area. Together with the recognition of quality bred stocks (in their terms) however the usage of quality imported frozen semen from Europe and the American continent will mitigate this. Australia is a low cost production area by comparison to these environments given our currency relativity with other international jurisdictions.
  • A carefully planned export program fostered by Government incentives, where possible, requires careful planning for the standardbred export industry. Within the primary industries this is regarded as a normal process and one, which requires investigation when resources are available for, export facilitation. This must be encouraged despite our need for current and future racing product given that the above normal returns through export sales provide an ideal opportunity for reinvestment in future local racing and breeding stock. What government export assistance and incentives are available? The drought in our herd numerically significant States of Victoria and New South Wales will in the short/medium term effect supply.
  • The Bureau of Meteorology has recently stated in the press that a number of indicators disclose that the El Nino climate conditions affecting Australia are weakening. Apparently this effect tends "to break down" in late summer and autumn. It is expected that a clearer forecast picture will be available at the end of February and will be reassessed in late May. Some rainfall is now occurring in Victoria in February.
  • Noted climatologist Roger Stone was also reported as saying that this El Nino effect had a 20% to 30% chance of recurring this year again. Dr Stone is a Director of the Queensland Centre for Climatic Applications at the Department of Primary Industries and is a Professor at the University of Southern Queensland. Whilst this is a minority view based on the international forecasters at the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (part of the National Weather Service) and the Japan Weather Association. Consequently, it should be incorporated into any planning and noted. (Source: From an Article by M. Sequeira, Stock & Land, January 2003)
  • It would therefore appear that the drought, and its effects, will be with us for sometime.

Tony Collins, Registrar, Harness Racing Authority NSW has provided a brief statistical assessment of the impact of the current drought on the breeding industry in NSW. This has been based on National statistical information relating to the last two major drought years in Australia, in an attempt to give an overview of the likely reduction in the number of foals, which will be bred in the current year.

In assessing the information, he has listed the percentage drop in the number of stallion services recorded, and the number of foals registered as a result of those services, for each of the drought years of 1982/83 and 1994/95. To provide some perspective and balance to these statistics he has also included the same statistics for the breeding seasons immediately preceding those drought years, in both cases.

Non Drought Year 1981/82 Drought Year 1982/83
0.65% drop in number of services recorded. 12.25% drop in number of services  recorded.
1.15% increase in number of foals registered as a result of those services. 18.81% drop in number of foals registered as a result of drought year services.
Non Drought Year 1993/94 Drought Year 1994/95
0.91% drop in number of services recorded. 11.63% drop in services recorded.
1.62% drop in number of foals registered as a result of those services. 12.50% drop in number of foals registered as a result of drought  year services.

As can be seen from the above National figures, the percentage drop in stallion services and foals registered was negligible in the seasons immediately preceding the drought years. However, the figures for the drought years disclose a completely different picture.

Comparatively, the drought this year has been at least as bad as the one in 1982/83, and certainly more severe than the 1994/95 drought. Therefore, extrapolating this statistical information, then it would appear that the number of mares serviced this season on a National basis, will be down by about 12% on last year’s figure, giving us an estimate of about 7,800 mares served this season (8,871 last season). Likewise, the number of foals to be born next season as a result of those services, will be around 5,400 and possibly as low as 5,000 (6,149 last season). Information will be available in early May 2003 to validate the above.

Of course, it remains to be seen what effect this reduction in numbers will have on the viability of 2 year old and 3 year old racing across the country, in seasons 2005/06 and 2006/07. However, one possible side effect is that owners may seek to bolster any shortfall in numbers by importing numbers of horses from overseas.

While naturally occurring phenomenon such as droughts will always have a devastating effect on all livestock industries nationally. Following a number of years of declining foal numbers in NSW, the introduction of initiatives such as Transported Semen and the Statebred Bonus Scheme, were beginning to have positive effects on the industry, with foaling numbers on the increase for the last two breeding seasons in succession. This positive trend of growth will unfortunately be suspended next season, as the full effects of the drought impact.

However, on a more positive note, our industry’s history shows us that the breeding industry invariably bounces back following a drought, with increases in foaling numbers of between 7.00% and 11.00% being experienced in the years after the 1982/83 and 1994/95 droughts if the past is an indicator of the future. This is one aspect of the current drought where the industry in this country will no doubt be hoping that history does repeat itself.

Consideration of the National Breeding Environment
  o State Breeding Schemes (Participant or other Industry Funded)
    - Currently being examined by another AHRC Working Group.
  o Identification of the Standardbred Herd. Are current Schemes workable? Achieving desired outcomes?
    - Breeding Segment
    - Racing Segment
    - Inactive/Retired Segment
  o SCB Registration Processes.
  o Continued use of technology and organisational restructure to revise fixed cost structures of the national registration activity.
  o Commonality of Tariffing and use of subsidies to encourage specific policies.
  o Consideration of the National Handicapping System. Currently being examined by another AHRC Working Group.
  o Geographic Location of the Standardbred Herd.
  o Currency of Stable Returns from Trainers
  o National and State based Computer System
    - Currency of Data
    - Purging of expired data
    - Future processing and review
  o Consideration and relaxation of Regulatory and Racing Rules, Guidelines and other policies e.g. Qualifying Times.
  o Key Considerations
    - Is how to incent key specific industry segments to provide standardbreds without escalating cost inputs?
    - The "carrot of incentive" must be focussed on the racing standardbred through either incentives at qualifying time or "trailer" bonuses to breeders to cover current/future cost structures.
    - Can a breeders/broodmare interchange marketplace be created whereby these parties can come together and interact to allow a breeding contract to be executed to produce a foal? Is this feasible? This was recognised by the use of a "breeders lease" in South Australia in the past to encourage breeding. Verbal deals should be formalised between Studs, Breeders and Owners.
  • Whilst the drought and its impact has been developing throughout the season its impact and implications in all States have been considered. However, the State Controlling Bodies’ capacity to respond is currently limited.
  • The timing and continued extent of the drought and its implications has meant that whilst individual owners and breeders have been able to decide or defer breeding decisions there is limited availability of SCB discretionary funding. The most affected States of Victoria and New South Wales have already committed their Budget priorities on expenditure for this financial year. As a result, unless other already committed programs are abandoned, curtailed or deferred drought assistance funding is unavailable.
  • As with any program there are equity allocation difficulties in the affected States as solutions raised through consultation are not able to be universally implemented throughout different geographic areas internal to the State. Accordingly, the emphasis is to maintain existing breeding and race result based schemes at the present.
  • Any further initiatives can only be deferred for consideration and consequent implementation can only occur in the next financial year as a result.
  • Studmasters, Stallion Stations and Agistment Facilities

o Fodder is one of the key inputs affecting the cost of operating these facilities. As a consequence of increased prices the cost of agistment to both the studmaster/operator increases which in turn is passed on to the owner/breeder.

o Discussions with members of the ASBA have disclosed that the impact of semen transportation has resulted in a change to and growth of stallion and/or semen stations from the past operations of traditional studmasters. The later are still the majority but breeding activity has decreased. Further the economic reach of larger "semen transportation" enterprises, both locally and internationally, has increased into all areas of the Australian market to the detriment of smaller locally based traditional studs. Refer to Council’s discussion paper on Artificial Insemination and Semen Transportation for the statistical dimension of this activity.

o As a consequence of the above factors interstate broodmare owners have taken "boarding" broodmares from long term agistment arrangements home to locations near the owner/breeder.

o The capital land resources often surrounding these facilities are no longer required for agistment, fodder production etc as the feed requirements are increasingly bought in rather than grown internally to the enterprise as an indicative trend. Therefore, traditional land usage previously committed to this is being reallocated and financial capital released.

o Importantly, this segment must also purchase or produce forward supplies of fodder for the coming winter to carry them through. This adds additional demand pressure to an already difficult fodder market.

  • Individual Owners & Breeders

o Personal situational analysis required of each individual enterprise(s).

o Identification of all resources and assessment of current inventory of horses.

o Consideration of the effects of significant sell down or culling on the individual’s capacity to respond to future personal growth decisions without current resources. Core breeding stock will require current and medium term access to grain, fodder and roughage.

o Consideration of standardbred resources, which should be retained, and what resources (financial, expertise etc) are required to implement this decision.

o Consideration of property, water and future feed/fodder will be necessary, together with effective improvements in all current processes.

o The ownership research done by Council will require revisiting and further current analysis given the future supply of standardbreds.

o The Victorian Government has put counselling resources in place to assist affected eligible persons in declared drought areas.

- Personal destruction of livestock as a result of bushfire

- Financial consequences as a result.

  • Individual Trainers

o The demand for racing/training stock will not be satisfied to meet racing product demands without considerable future planning.

o The lack of horses and increased costs will force trainers to reconsider their industry position whether they are professionals or hobbyists.

o Given the number of available horses for racing purposes trainers will need to re-think their traditional methods of obtaining horses. They will need to re-think relationships with those who breed standardbreds.

o Extensive focus group panels are required to both consult and enquire on areas/issues impacting on their environment.

o Operation of Public/Private Training Facilities with their requirements of resources, funding, maintenance and access to Club operating facilities.

o The Federal Government has implemented programs utilising Centrelink’s Job Network with benefits and income support. Phone 132 316 or www.centrelink.gov.au. The alternative area is in Work for the Dole, Drought Force through a local Community Work Co-ordinator or the Drought Force Hotline on 1800 004 226.

  • Conducting Clubs, Training Tracks & Private Track Facilities

o Has the drought caused a change in the pattern of usage of conducting clubs where training is undertaken and/or horses are stabled on-course or in close proximity. Is there a move from private to public facilities? Research can ascertain if a migration of training location has occurred, if necessary.

o Has the local availability of race and horses in training changed significantly?

o As Clubs have the closest proximity to our Trainer and Driver industry participants, they have the ability to best communicate the localised effect of the drought. This information can be collected through each State’s Industry Advisory Council or Club Association. Information provided by individual Club’s follows the key issue identified by those Clubs who responded to Council’s request for impact information.

o Clubs need to consider and access water usage as an integral part of their operations. The key to track facilities including raceday operations is water usage particularly in periods of hot climatic conditions. As water is often carted and applied/distributed by water trucks this is a key club expenditure factor as part of their facilities management program. If a Club does not have access to artesian or low cost water resources this necessary expenditure has rapidly escalated as a result of the current drought arrangements. Wind erosion maybe a distinct possibility if water supply and usage is limited.

o An ancillary question is the possibility to utilise recycled water, including sewerage recycled water, in rural areas, if normal supply is currently restricted. This raises the aspect of environmental concerns as to usage if this is able to be operationally achieved. Again this is a choice between alternatives.

o From a training and horse welfare viewpoint the hardening of training tracks can contribute to a number of leg and stress injuries as a consequence. Again, injury management is another factor in the supply of racing product.

o As the costs of clubs and training facilities escalate where they are utilised for both racing, trialling and training cost recovery and/or subsidisation requests to increase funding from various sources has and will occur to State Controlling Bodies. This may impact on the ability of clubs to maintain and/or increase race stakemoney. Accordingly, infrastructure maintenance, replacement and capital equipment expenditure will possibly be impacted within the operational Club programmes. As much of this operational work relies on the volunteer provision of labour (and capital equipment) resources in this area maybe subject to review.


  • Key Issues Nominated by Clubs Survey

o Guaranteed supply of product.

o Regional and rural New South Wales are central component of product supply. (TAB% of holdings important).

o Imbalance between city and non-city stakemoney.

o Club cost escalation and own volunteer resources.

o Lack of State assistance and marketing.

· Joint Industry/TAB Consulting Study

· Government Support of industry required

o Starters levy payable.

o Assistance for Breeders

o Assistance to Trainers & Drivers

· Government Subsidy

o Will accelerate supply & fodder prices

o Difficult to differentiate across equine segments

· Consider establishment of forward purchase products

o Consolidate industry to establish to volume contractual forwarding purchasing contracts this warrants scale of operations to hedge on price movements on a co-ordinated regional approach.

o Limited options available

· State & Federal Government Subsidy

o SCB could consider fee reduction or subsidy

- Foaling & registration fees

o Need to plan out into the future.

Individual Club Issues Response

Bathurst Harness Racing Club Ltd (NSW)

o Acknowledgement of lack of availability and costs of feed and grazing conditions, particularly in major stud areas.

o Impact will continue on access to feed grains, processed feed and fodder.

o Feed availability will continue and impact on racing stock.

o Intensive competition for grain supply by all livestock sectors.

· Bendigo Harness Racing Club (Vic)

o Establishment of a "fodder" pool of oats and hay to retain until August, when needed.

· Blayney A & P Harness Racing Club (NSW)

o Increasing cost of feed

- Flow on training and owner expenses.

o Increasing cost of agistment for broodmares

- Reduction in numbers being bred.

- Cessation of breeding activity.

o Efficiency in getting mares into foals

- More difficult in drought conditions.

· Bunbury Trotting Club (WA)

o Increased cost of feed and other input costs.

o Reduction and return of taxation on wagering by State Government.

o WATA to submit proposal to Western Australian Government.

· Elmore Light Harness Racing Club (Vic)

o Feed prices have doubled or trebled in price.

o Water prices have doubled or water is no longer available. Irrigation providers not providing full water entitlements.

o Inconsistent application of drought notification by government.

o Owners not sending horses to be trained.

· Maryborough Harness Racing Club (Vic)

o Availability, cartage and price of acceptable quality hay.

o Problem of diminishing water supply and the cost of obtaining good fresh water from contractors.

o Probability that mare numbers bred will be down.

o Comments relate to the Maryborough area whereas Ballarat has experienced good conditions.

o Horse numbers unaffected at this stage.

· Mildura Harness Racing Club (Vic)

o Escalating cost of horse feed.

o Deferral of breeding activities.

o Horses moving from Mildura district for agistment.

o Escalating cost of fuel.

· Mooroopna Harness Racing (Vic)

o Industry participants, particularly trainers (mostly hobbyists receive "no drought assistance".

o Irrigation water, if attainable, currently attracts a price of $500/megalitre on the open market.

o Professional trainers can pass costs on to owners whereas the hobbyist trainer cannot.

o Limited grass available for mares and foals.

o Feed bills have doubled.

· Newcastle Harness Racing Club (NSW)

o The problem of getting feed now but more so in a few months time.

o The cost increases of feed as supply lessens.

o Water restrictions, this does not appear to be a major issue in our region but a number of participants mentioned the effects this was having on other areas that saw participants having to purchase water.

· Orange Harness Racing Club (NSW)

o Spelling paddocks unavailable with feed.

o Cost of feed tripled.

o Breeding impact with 20% reduction in number of mares being served.

o Agistment costs have substantially risen.

o Lack of feed stock discloses inability to feed and maintain stock.

o Trainers State owners

- Not willing to take time to develop.

- Race programming means unable to get to races within timeframe being returned to owners to feed or slaughter.

- Slow horses unable to earn being dogged.

· Shepparton Harness Racing Club (Vic)

o Significant increase in cost of lucerne and bale oats.

o Cycle is that trainers fees increase as a consequence thereby owners will reduce numbers affecting industry horse supply etc.

o Irrigation water availability although only 49% of entitlement has minimised impact to date.

o Communication required to alert metropolitan area of the plight of the country.

· Young Harness Racing Club (NSW)

o Increased feed costs with horse numbers, trainers declining.

o Horses are being kept in work as being productive.


External Information Sources

o Circulation of industry groups and clubs for information.

o Tap into State Controlling Bodies through their Industry Advisory Bodies and Club Associations on consultation undertaken and provide further analysis for consideration.

o Request external Bodies other than Government like Animal Health Australia, RIRDC, Australian Veterinary Association and others on whether any current work is being undertaken.

o Enquire through State Local Government Associations whether any of their Shires, Cities etc undertaking review or subsidy encouragement.

o Animal Health Australia

o RIRDC – Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation

o Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics

o Bureau of Rural Sciences

o State Farmers Federation Branches

o Rural Press Publications (State Specific) Stock & Land, Weekly Times etc.

· Government Drought Assistance Programs

    Federal Government

o Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia. (www.affa.gov.au - click on Commonwealth Drought Assistance).

    State Governments

o Department of Primary Industry, Victoria (www.nre.vic.gov.au/drought - Drought Information for Victoria)

o NSW Agriculture (www.agric.nsw.gov.au - Natural Resources and Climate - Drought)

o Department of Primary Industries, Queensland. (www.dpi.qld.gov.au/drought - Drought - Managing The Tough Times Together)

o Department of Primary Industries and Resources, South Australia. (www.pir.sa.gov.au - Managing Drought & Dry Conditions)

o Department of Primary Industries, Water & Environment, Tasmania (www.dpiwe.tas.gov.au)

o Department of Agriculture, Western Australia (www.agric.wa.gov.au)


  • Update of all national statistics and estimates of herd segments to be undertaken together with consideration of a National Registration Database and annual registration.
  • Preparation and update of breeding statistics and estimates for the current season when foaling and service certificate data is returned.
  • Forecasting of trends and assumptions of above data.
  • Obtain State Controlling Bodies Plans and Programs for inclusion and circulation on State Breeding Schemes.
  • Forecasts on requirements for breeding stock to fulfil racing product provision into the future together with integration of other statistical information.
  • Completed Identification of key Government Websites and Information on the Drought and available assistance and communication through National Website.
  • State and Federal Government Drought Policies and Assistance Programs with identification of specific horse industry segments with further analysis. Correspondence on awareness to the Racing Ministers.
  • Identification of specific horse and drought information, articles etc and communication through the Website and State Controlling Body magazines.
  • Creation and inclusion of relevant areas on a separate segment of the National Harness Racing Website. (www.harness.org.au) with linkages to above.


Council discussed this paper at its Mid Season Meeting (April 2003) and its recommendations are to be progressed.

Should you have any further comments or information please send them to the Author for the Working Party:

Rod Pollock
Chief Executive
Australian Harness Racing Council