Statement Before the
Committee on Agriculture
On behalf of the sheep producers, I am very appreciative of this opportunity to discuss our nation’s agricultural policy with the agriculture leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives.
I am pleased to provide my thoughts on the priorities in the next Farm bill that will assist the sheep business. I can report to the Committee, as well Mr. Chairman, that these priorities are shared by my fellow producers and the American Sheep Industry Association.
The sheep industry of the
Sheep producers have been aggressive and creative in their approach to national initiatives that strengthen the domestic industry.
In 2005, the sheep industry approved a national referendum to continue our American Lamb Board checkoff program. This lamb promotion program is entirely funded by the industry and I am pleased to say that of those who voted, 80 percent voted in favor of the referendum. We collect over $2 million annually from sheep sales with producers, feeders and lamb companies all paying a share of the checkoff.
The American Wool Council launched a wool production, information and marketing program for American wool in early 2001. Our national initiatives have improved competition for American wool. International marketing programs have exposed
2004 marked the first growth in
The 2002 Farm bill programs have been helpful in our industry’s turn around.
The Wool Loan Deficiency (LDP) program provides the only safety net for producers in our business. I encourage the Committee to re-authorize the wool LDP and at a base loan rate of $1.20 per pound in order to provide the benefit of the program as intended. While nine loan rates are available, essentially all wool LDP applications are in one non-graded rate category. The research and industry testimony provided in 2002 supported a $1.20 per pound base loan rate and authorization of the wool LDP at this rate should provide opportunity for all producers to participate in the program as intended.
Industry research by Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and testimony by the American Sheep Industry Association documented a base loan rate of $1.20 per pound, however, the legislation lowered the base to $1.00 a pound with a cost score of $20 million annually. The total payments for each of the 2002 through 2005 crop years is $7.8 million, $7 million, $7.3 million, and $4.6 million respectively. The significant difference between the annual cost estimate and the actual payment total each year combined with the fact that nearly all participation has been in only one loan category out of nine total categories, supports the request that the program be authorized at the base rate of $1.20 per pound rather than $1.00 in the current legislation.
Additionally, on the international wool marketing efforts, our industry actively participates in the USDA Foreign Market Development, Market Access Program and Quality Samples Program and encourages inclusion of these in the Farm bill.
I urge the Committee to support re-authorization of the
As established in the 1996 Farm Bill in the Rural Development program of USDA, the
The Center has provided 56 loans to 38 entities in 21 states. The total volume of dollars that have been loaned since 2000 totals approximately $15.5 million. The Center has also made 58 grants equaling $20,754,529.
As evident in the listening sessions on the Farm Bill that Secretary Johanns conducted last year, a number of comments were provided by producers in support of a retained ewe lamb program in the next Farm bill. The growth of the