Know the Facts

How does horse power drive Florida’s economy?
  • Florida is the third biggest equine state by number of horses with 35 percent of the state’s horse population located in Marion County.
  • Ocala/Marion County has more horses and ponies than any other county in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture census. [1]
  • More than 900 farms with every breed are located in Ocala/Marion County.[2]
  • Horse breeders, owners and trainers are drawn to Florida’s year-round moderate climate and mineral-rich water and soil.[3]
  • Equine operations preserve land and green space. In Marion County, more than 195,000 acres of its 377,000 acres are used for horse-related purposes.[4]
  • In Florida, the horse industry:
    • Generates $6.5 billion economic impact on gross domestic product, when including spending by industry suppliers and employees.
    • Produces goods and services valued at $2.2 billion.
    • Has more than 244,000 Floridians involved as horse owners, service providers and employees.[5]
  • In Marion County, the equine industry:
    • Has a $2.62 billion annual economic impact on Ocala, Fla.
    • Generates $1.6 billion in value-added contribution to the gross domestic product.
    • Creates 19,209 full- and part-time jobs.[6]
Confusion: Coastal Connector Opposition.
  • Florida’s population is growing and the transportation systems must grow too. We opposed the routes through the heart of the most prime and precious Marion County horse farms and the Farmland Preservation Area, not the toll road itself.
  • Our goal was to help the leadership of the FDOT understand the impact of their proposed routes. Once provided with the facts, the FDOT had the good judgement to abandon those proposed routes.
We are NOT anti-growth.
  • Horse Farms Forever recognizes that Marion County’s population is growing and the housing and transportation systems must grow too.
  • Our goal is to preserve the culture and character that the horse industry and the Farmland Preservation Area make special and unique to Ocala/Marion County…as it grows. 
  •  We support language in the Comprehensive Plan that says:
    “The County Shall Preserve and Protect the Rural, Equestrian and
    Agricultural Character within the Rural Lands, Specifically the Farmland Preservation Area.”
  • We are not asking for any change in the zoning within the Farmland Preservation Area.
  • We believe that any new roads within the Farmland Preservation Area should use existing rights-of-way.