Horse and other equine animal owners/lessors will vote across the state on Tuesday, March 11, to determine whether to continue to voluntarily assess themselves $2 per ton of commercial horse feed in order to provide funds to promote the interests of the horse industry.
Becky Spearman, livestock extension agent, says the vote in Bladen County will take place in the County Extension Center from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Any North Carolina resident who has reached his/her 9th birthday as of Jan. 1 and who has complete or partial ownership or lease of an equine (horse, pony, mule, donkey or jinny) is eligible to vote. Individuals must sign a statement certifying eligibility at time of voting.
Since many horse owners work away from home during business hours, a provision has been made for absentee voting. Between the dates of Feb. 24–March 10, horse owners may visit the Bladen County Extension Center located at 450 Smith Circle Drive in Elizabethtown or phone the office at 910-862-4591 and request a ballot and absentee registration form. These must be turned in to the Extension office by March 11, and will be counted along with others on March 11.
If the vote is favorable on March 11, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will continue to receive the assessment funds from manufacturers and/or distributors of horse feed, and will remit the money to the N.C. Horse Council. The Horse Council has indicated that the funds will be used for 4-H and other youth and educational programs, trails advocacy, equine research, representation of horse interests in government, marketing programs, enforcement of horse laws, and improved public awareness of diseases and other threats to horses’ well-being.
Many other agricultural commodities have similar voluntary assessment programs. Horsemen may receive a refund of the assessment by writing to the NC Horse Council within a year of purchase and including proof of purchase.
For more information, contact the Bladen County Extension Office at 910-862-4591. The Bladen County Extension Office is located at 450 Smith Circle Drive in Elizabethtown.