Horse Farms Forever is made up of a group of local Floridians whose mission is to inspire the conservation of horse farms by preserving the natural pasture land for horses and their habitats, protecting the soil and water on which they depend, and minimizing land use conflicts in Marion County, Florida.
The catalyst for the creation of Horse Farms Forever was the decision in April 2018 by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to propose building the Coastal Connector turnpike with routes right through the heart of Marion County’s prized horse country. After massive public outcry over the potential destruction of the hundreds of horse farms that provide the cultural fabric of Marion County, the FDOT “postponed” this project.
Now that the immediate threat of the Coastal Connector has been postponed, the ongoing goal for Horse Farms Forever is to continue our mission of awareness and education to protect the horse farms in Marion County from further government overreach.
Marion County has some of the most productive horse farming in the country and this didn’t happen by chance. The equine industry was developed here more than 80 years ago because of the unique characteristics of the year-round moderate climate, as well as the mineral-rich soil and water specific to the region. Think of how important the coral reefs are to the make-up of the Florida Keys. The land in Marion County is just as irreplaceable and precious for horse farms in the North Central Florida region.
Ocala’s equine industry contributes nearly 50 percent of the tourism dollars in Marion County, brings in nearly $3 billion annually and employs 20,000 workers. The equine industry is at stake should this project resume at a later date or future projects be approved. To preserve and protect Marion County’s green space and promote responsible growth, Horse Farms Forever is dedicated to constantly monitoring the development of agriculture property in Marion County.