Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) President Basil Nolan has welcomed the announcement by Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce that, if re-elected, he would grant a Research and Development Levy for the thoroughbred industry.

The Levy will see the Department of Agriculture match funds raised by the thoroughbred industry in a dollar for dollar scheme for research projects that will be spent safeguarding and improving equine health and production.

With the Australian Labour Party having already committed to installing the Levy if elected, the scheme appears certain to go ahead.

“We are grateful to Mr Joyce for making matched funding available for research, this scheme will give our industry real certainty that we will have government support into the future for vital projects in areas like bio-security and disease control,” Nolan said.

“Breeding plays a very important role in the rural economy and it’s pleasing to have this acknowledged by Mr Joyce and by the Shadow Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.  I have no doubt that the research funded by this levy will help us grow our industry through better health outcomes for horses and it will also safeguard the jobs of the many thousands of people who work with thoroughbreds.”

It is expected about $400,000 will be raised each year by a small levy on stallion and mare owners, with the government agreeing to match that sum for an initial three years if re-elected, meaning $800,000 will be available to fund research per annum.

Such schemes are common in agriculture with many areas of primary production, such as cotton, beef and grains, all receiving dollar for dollar funding in this way.

A proposal brought by TBA was initially rejected by the federal government last year, after which the peak body for the breeding industry produced economic modelling that showed granting the levy would improve production and economic activity.

“I would also like to thank TBA chief executive Tom Reilly for his tireless work behind the scenes to make this announcement possible,” Nolan added.  “He convinced parliamentarians of all sides of politics the importance this levy.”

Among the areas likely to be the focus of research are the prevention and management of exotic and indigenous diseases, improving the conception rates of mares and stallions and efforts to reduce foetal loss caused by contagious diseases.

TBA chief executive Tom Reilly described how the levy will provide real certainty for funding.  “Getting this levy funded is very important and it means we can look to some ambitious long term projects of benefit to all breeders right across the country.  Once put in place these R&D levies have not been repealed so we believe this funding will be ongoing.”