ASI is the national organization representing the interests of more than 88,000 sheep producers located throughout the United States. From East to West, pasture-based flocks to range operations, ASI works to represent the interests of all producers.
ASI is a federation of 45 state sheep associations as well as individual members. All ASI officers, board of director members and council and committee members serve as volunteers – without pay.
Roots Dating Back to the 1800s
The year was 1865. Abraham Lincoln was president, the Civil War was ending, and neither the automobile nor the telephone had been invented. This was the year the National Wool Growers Association was formed, making it the first national livestock association in the United States. It was this association that provided the roots for today’s national industry organization: the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI).
Powered by Producers … for Producers
From the domestic and international promotion of wool and pelts to its work on legislative, science and technology, animal health and resource management issues, ASI is a producer-powered federation of state organizations dedicated to the common goal of promoting the profitability and well-being of the U.S. sheep industry.
ASI’s producer-driven structure includes a board of directors, executive board, councils and committees and officers. These entities define, develop and execute policy on issues affecting the sheep industry. Councils and committees include Animal Health, Legislative Action, Predator Management, Public Lands, Research and Education and Resource Management.
Proven Coalition Builder
ASI’s track record as a proven coalition builder was evidenced when it brought together leaders from all segments of the industry to win the only trade action on Australian and New Zealand lamb imports.
The National Lamb Feeders Association is now a dues paying member of ASI and a key partner in national issues as well. ASI has brought together other livestock, health and aviation interests to successfully defend and strengthen the Wildlife Services program.
Individual producers, feeders, processors and other interested individuals are welcome to join ASI on an individual basis.
When it comes to setting a successful and profitable course for the industry, ASI believes there is no one better equipped for this task than the American sheep producer. This is why producer members established ASI’s goals. They include:
- Developing an industry vision for the future.
- Being an advocate of public policy to protect, promote and support the economical viability of the industry.
- Creating strong national and international markets for wool through advertising, promotion and marketing.
- Advancing and coordinating science and technology of production and marketing, and
- Promoting communication and cooperation between all segments of the industry, related business and government agencies.
How ASI is Financed
Funding for work on legislative and membership issues comes from member dues and individual donations. Individual and state member dues are .035 cents per stock sheep and $8 per member and must be renewed yearly.
ASI is a federation of 45 state sheep associations as well as individual members. All ASI officers, board of director members and council and committee members serve as volunteers – without pay. ASI secured limited non-industry funding, known as the Wool Trust Fund, for use in wool production, information, research and promotion.
As a volunteer organization dependent upon voluntary funding, ASI has developed initiatives -- and even separate organizations -- to deal with industry needs beyond the association’s funding ability. For example, in 1996 ASI created the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, which makes available grants and loans for projects aimed at strengthening industry infrastructure. Then in 2000, ASI secured the National Scrapie Eradication program, which has the regulation and funding necessary to address the industry’s top animal-health issue – scrapie. And to fill the void in the marketing and promotion of American lamb, ASI led the industry’s development of the National Lamb Promotion, Research and Information Order, which was established in 2002.
Representing Your Interests
Just as the inner-workings of the U.S. sheep industry are wide and varied, so are the interests of ASI. This is why the association has five councils comprised of industry leaders in place to define, tackle and develop policy on the tough and ever-changing issues affecting the industry. These five councils are Legislative Action, Research and Education, Resource Management, Lamb and Wool.
Legislative Action – In Washington, D.C., ASI is the recognized voice for sheep producers regarding sheep industry issues. ASI champions sheep producers’ causes in the nation’s Capital to ensure that key programs are funded or maintained, and that key pieces of legislation are passed to ensure the continued health and profitability of the U.S. sheep industry. In the late 1990s, ASI spearheaded a drive to curb the damaging effects of imports, resulting in a successful 201 trade case against imports, including a comprehensive $100 million lamb industry assistance package. ASI is the forerunner in successfully fighting animal rights-led efforts to kill funding for predator control in the Wildlife Services Agency program. To help the industry cope with severe drought and market crisis, ASI succeeded with legislation through Congress for emergency wool market loss payments in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and Livestock Assistance/Compensation payments in 2001 and 2002. Additionally, ASI included a marketing loan program for wool in the 2002 Farm Bill.
Wool – The largest division of ASI, the American Wool Council, works to improve the American wool industry and to promote the usage of American wool – both in domestic and international markets. The 14-member American Wool Council currently oversees wool promotion activities made possible by the Wool Trust Fund. The objective of the Wool Trust Fund program is to assist U.S. wool producers in improving the quality of wool produced in the United States and to assist U.S. wool producers in the development and promotion of the wool market. Primary program areas are: quality improvement, including new technology, market accessibility, market information, wool production and quality assurance; market research and promotion; and communication. The export marketplace is becoming increasingly important for U.S. wool producers. As a result, the American Wool Council has increased its work in the international marketplace to ensure that buyers around the world are aware of the quality and availability of American wool. ASI secures funding for international market development activities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The Wool Trust Fund supports international programs.
Resource Management – Land, water, predator and other environmental issues are extremely important to U.S. sheep producers. ASI works with other industry organizations, state and federal agencies, and state sheep producer organizations to see that the interests of sheep producers are considered in land-use regulations and wildlife management.
Lamb – A division of ASI, the American Lamb Council has long promoted American lamb through recipe development, consumer and retail promotion, foodservice promotion and outreach to culinary professionals and food editors. In late 2000, ASI secured a marketing grant for the industry and the American Lamb Council was awarded a one-and-a-half year marketing grant to promote and market American lamb through culinary outreach, retail merchandising, an American Lamb Information Center, a new identity and consumer positioning. Though the grant activities conducted by ASI have concluded, marketing efforts for American lamb continue. The American Lamb Board, an entity totally separate from ASI, began its promotion and marketing efforts for American lamb in the spring of 2003.
Research and Education – A profitable livestock industry relies on maintaining and improving the health of its animals. ASI’s efforts in this arena include working with the U.S. government and industry groups to prevent and control various animal diseases affecting the sheep industry. ASI led the sheep industry’s efforts to establish the national Scrapie Eradication program issued in 2001. ASI also works with USDA and many other organizations to prevent the introduction into the United States of such diseases as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Foot-and-Mouth Disease.
ASI partners with other organizations for the benefit of the industry. These organizations include: the Public Lands Council, National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, National Sheep Improvement Program, National Institute for Animal Agriculture, the U.S. Animal Health Association, the Animal Agriculture Coalition and the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.
Two other important member groups of ASI include the ASI Women and the National Lamb Feeders Association. The ASI Women actively support ASI through promotion and legislative activities, conducting fundraising for the latter. The National Lamb Feeders Association is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to initiate, sponsor and carry out plans, programs, policies and activities which will promote, encourage and improve the production of lambs and sheep in the United States and around the world.
ASI keeps sheep industry members updated on ASI activities and industry news by regularly distributing and updating various information pieces and sources.
ASI WEEKLY – the only weekly newsletter in the sheep industry devoted exclusively to sheep industry issues.
SHEEP INDUSTRY NEWS – This monthly tabloid provides news and feature stories on the sheep industry, as well as an industry calendar, a president’s column and advertising.
OTHER – ASI also offers other information pieces. Call the ASI office or visit the “Materials” section of this Web site conveniently located on the home page.