09/08/2004 12:00AM

Kentucky panel seeks tax shift


An organization formed to strengthen the Kentucky horse industry's political influence pressed a state legislative committee on Wednesday for tax relief and other incentives for breeders and owners.

Claria Horn Shadwick, the executive director of the group, called the Kentucky Equine Education Program, told the committee that Kentucky was in danger of losing its status as the "horse capital of the world."

Horn Shadwick said that Kentucky is losing its business to other states because Kentucky's 6 percent state tax applies to feed and equipment for horse farms and because the state does not have a breeders' incentive program. She ticked off a litany of statistics that included a $4 billion economic impact for Kentucky's entire horse industry.

The Kentucky Equine Education Program was formed earlier this year in the wake of industry failures to get any significant legislation passed, including bills to legalize slot machines at racetracks. Asked about the group's immediate goals, Horn Shadwick said: "We don't have a priorities list yet, but there are things out there that could obviously help the industry, such as tax relief and incentive programs."

The meeting was held at the Kentucky Horse Park just outside of Lexington before the Interim Joint Commitee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, comprising 45 members of the Senate and Assembly. Approximately 250 people attended, mostly owners or representatives of local farms.