By AMY TRINIDAD
Sheep Industry News Editor
(Dec. 1, 2012) Glen Fisher, chair of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC), recently announced that eight applicants had been offered funding for competitive grants through the Sheep and Goat Industry Grant Initiative.
NSIIC received 26 proposals requesting $1.8 million. All proposals were evaluated and scored in accordance with the solicitation and funding was awarded based on this criteria.
“The board appreciates all of the time and effort that goes into preparing a proposal,” comments Glen Fisher, president of NSIIC. “The competition this year was intense, making the selections difficult. As a board, we believe we have selected projects that will prove to benefit our industries both today and into the future.”
The primary objective of the grants is to fund a number of diverse projects that will benefit the U.S. sheep or goat industry through product or business development, producer information or education, marketing and promotion for sheep or goats or their products, genetic retention or animal health at the regional, national or international level.
This is the second year of the popular grant program, which is funded by Congress and administered by the NSIIC board of directors to help provide infrastructure capital to the sheep and goat industries.
Highlight of a Few Grants
American Lamb Board’s Building Demand for American Lamb – The American Lamb Board (ALB) will manage a project designed to reverse the decline in demand for American lamb. ALB will be working with a committee representing various stakeholders (industry sectors and organizations) to oversee this project. ALB and other industry leaders recognize that it is a vital time to seek outside expertise to help assess critical components of the industry to improve the system and identify meaningful strategies and solutions for stakeholders that will contribute to a more viable domestic industry that will be competitive with imports, sustainable and profitable in the future.
Phase I of the project is an industry-wide assessment study to evaluate the issues throughout the entire chain of production. This phase will look to identify opportunities for reversing the decline in demand for American lamb in the United States, thus improving the overall structure of the industry to be more responsive and proactive to the needs of its customers and reducing the industry’s volatility. The goal of the study is to develop resources and strategies to present to industry stakeholders in an effort to build consensus for change and significant industry improvements to:
1. assist the industry in developing a more secure and profitable future for all industry segments;
2. build supply and demand for American lamb products; and
3. enable the industry to deliver consistent, high-quality products year round.
Phase II of the project will be industry outreach. After the industry assessment is completed, ALB will work with other industry organizations and stakeholders to host either a single industry summit or a series of regional summits to provide an opportunity to report the strategic concepts from the study and facilitate open communication and discussion. The summit’s purpose would be to foster all sectors working together on common goals and to build a foundation to implement a go-forward, industry-focused initiative to drive demand and ensure a profitable future for all sectors of the industry.
The information from the assessment study will also be broadly disseminated through published reports, fact sheets, industry publications and websites.
Mountain States Rosen’s Extraordinary Living: American Lamb – Mountain States Rosen (MSR) will engage in a multi-media effort to promote the distinctive, extraordinary and little-known attributes of American lamb through digital and social media to increase interest and sales.
MSR will identify up to three retailers to co-partner with on semi-customized promotion utilizing the creative and themes of the digital and social media. The digital campaign will consist of creative content for digital media targeting people who care about the quality of their food and are passionate about getting and sharing great food ideas. The social media campaign will include Facebook applications providing cooking tips, recipes, testimonials and a contest for lamb supporters.
“Our goal with this promotional program is to focus on social media avenues to motivate and enthuse lamb lovers and food enthusiasts into utilizing lamb more frequently for regular meals as well as holiday and special events. Ultimately, we want to increase sales of American lamb and remind people that lamb is a wonderful and exciting option for any occasion,” explains Elizabeth Dressler, director of marketing and technical sales for MSR, who says the program planning and development is underway with implementation throughout 2013.
National Lamb Feeders Association’s (NLFA) 2013 Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School “Ranching in Texas” – The leadership school in San Angelo, Texas, will offer attendees the chance to examine some of the changes that have taken place in the industry over the past few years and teach producers how to adapt to the changing industry.
Next year’s program includes a half-day segment at Angelo State University’s Food Safety and Product Development Laboratory; tours of Denis Feedlot, Custom Skin Co., Bollman Industries, Producers Livestock Auction Co., Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center; and presentations from industry leaders, university researchers and Texas sheep producers.
Montana State University (MSU) and Texas A&M University’s Wool Education and Research – The goal of this proposal is to provide leadership and technical assistance to American sheep producers on wool production, preparation and marketing to help improve the quality, marketing efficiency and competitiveness of U.S. wool both internationally and domestically. The objectives of this project are to provide educational outreach programs for producers, stakeholders and end users of American wool; develop a sheep community of practice within eXtension that offers a wool education component; and develop, evaluate and implement systems to apply OFDA technology for objectively measuring wool and to develop criteria that incorporate objective measurement of wool into a sheep selection program.
MSU and Texas A&M are the only active university wool labs in the United States and this funding will allow these universities to expand their outreach efforts in order to meet the national needs of sheep and wool producers.
“The primary focus of this grant is to provide educational and research support to growers in wool preparation and evaluation as well as working with the U.S. processing industry to become more comfortable with U.S. wool and thus converting from foreign to domestic wool sources,” explains Rodney Kott, Ph.D., MSU extension sheep specialist.
The other projects that were awarded NSIIC grant monies include:
- NLFA: Tri-Lamb meeting;
- Central Arkansas Resource Conservation and Development Council: lamb and goat production, enhancement, producer identification and education project;
- South Dakota Sheep Growers Association, Montana Wool Growers Association and the North Dakota Lamb and Wool Producers Association: wool harvesting schools and wool harvesting equipment; and
- Texas A&M AgriLife Research: improved effectiveness of targeted grazing through genetic selection.
“After the dissemination of funds this year, the board will now have spent two-thirds of the $1 million that was granted in 2010,” explains Fisher. “Our board focuses on trying to fund the projects that best match up with the industry’s priorities.”
To read the summary for each of the funded projects, visitwww.nsiic.org.