The economy has been the No. 1 issue surrounding President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, from the perspectives of the White House and the public. However, it is sometimes difficult to contemplate just how far economic insecurity stretches in today’s society.
My wife and I own three horses, each of which is boarded at a local farm near Houston. We pay $400 a month for each of these horses, plus veterinary and other costs. In the last six months, our weekly expenditures for the upkeep of our horses has increased by 42 percent.
The couple who owns the stable where we board our horses was forced to raise our boarding fees by $25 in February because of the increasing cost of hay and food. Droughts in much of the country and an increase in machinery costs and other hay-harvest items have driven up prices. The recent increase in gasoline prices has made transportation more expensive, too.
Many professionals we hire for basic care are self-employed and are struggling under the weight of a sick economy. Our veterinarian, farrier and equine chiropractor have increased their rates significantly to compensate for economic problems. Additionally, Insurance costs for animals also have increased during Obama’s first 100 days in office. Medical insurance for our horses has jumped 12 percent since January.
During Obama’s first 100 days in office, many issues have been addressed, from stimulus plans to health care reform. However, it seems to me people are struggling in many ways that hit closer to home, and most of us are forced to scale back in ways we never imagined.
Several other boarders at our farm have sold their horses in recent months, though the equine market has slowed considerably. Riders are spending more time at work and less time at the barn. They simply can’t afford the increasing cost of caring for animals.
Those who live or board their horses in rural areas are dealing with the increased gasoline prices more than ever. Driving into town for groceries costs much more. Gas prices are also driving up shipping costs to rural areas.
This issue is not confined, however, to horses and livestock. According to the Tampa Tribune, dog-rescue groups have experienced a surge in lost, neglected and abandoned dogs, citing the economy as the cause. American families who can no longer afford dog food, veterinary bills and other ancillary costs are forced to give up their four-legged family members.
It is possible that the Obama administration will use the economic stimulus plan and other economic programs to help those with animals recover. However, Washington has done very little to address this, and those who care for and earn a living from animals are feeling left in the cold. The lack of attention to this area may further weaken the agriculture industry’s impact on our economy.