September 15, 2003
Working Your Way Through The ?Honey Do? List
When it?s early August, it is tough to write a column that calls people?s attention to things that need to be done in the fall. With September approaching but not yet here, fall harvest and shipping haven?t quite started. There are still three or four jobs on the summer ?honey do? list that have to be finished.
At our July executive board meeting in Denver, we met with the wool council and tried to work our way through ASI?s ?honey do? list. ASI directors have already returned their ballots on next year?s budgets and I am assuming that as directors, they all voted ?Yes,? and that ASI and the wool council are ready to enter a new fiscal year fully funded.
Directors should have noticed that one or two funds are low. The Sheep Heritage Foundation, a Wool Growers Memorial Fund from which we award the Wool Growers scholarship, is very low. Likewise, are the RAMS PAC and Legislative Action Fund. In fact, we have transferred money from the Guard Dog fund to help pay the deficit and keep our work in Washington, D.C. as strong as possible.
With many of our state meetings coming up in the next three months one of those ?honey do? jobs for the state associations would be a contribution from your state to either of these funds. If someone in your state who was an influential member of our industry has passed away, a great way to memorialize them is through our scholarship fund. You not only recognize their accomplishments but you also fund a graduate student?s studies in sheep, wool and lamb.
Contributions to our political funds keep us active in Washington, D.C. Our efforts there over the last few years have resulted in more than $125 million being funneled into the U.S. sheep industry. To continue our efforts in Washington requires all of us, state associations and individuals to dig a little deeper.
I?m asking you all to push for additional members to your state association and ASI. We have always based our dues on sheep numbers and recently on those plus state members. Since our sheep numbers are those published on January 1 each year, and since USDA no longer counts all states (they skip or lump together 17 states), we need to examine our dues structure.
Could we use states AG Census numbers? Are there other sources for these numbers? Our certification date for state members is May 31. Some states base dues on wool pool participation, but don?t sell until after May 31. Do we need to change our date?
Can your state association accept goat producer members? Do we need to bring into ASI other small ruminant groups? In some states there are more goats and goat producers than sheep and their owners. We have ?carried the water? for goat people in Washington on several recent occasions. Should we invite them to become part of our state organizations and a part of ASI? Put all of these on the list for your state meeting.
Another item of intense discussion at the Denver meeting was how we were to handle the upcoming Lamb Summit in Washington, D.C. Our executive board and officers have grave reservations about sitting at the table with Australia and New Zealand. After attending the meeting in San Angelo, Texas, we felt obligated to attend one more. Is there anything to be gained or lost meeting with them?
ASI will be represented by myself, Paul Frischknecht, Dominique Minaberrigarai of California and Chico Denis of Texas. We have pledged to the executive board that nothing would be signed without their ratification.
Australia is pushing very hard for a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. With about 40 U.S. congressmen backing Australia and Australia spending some very big money lobbying, I think they may get what they want.