Forty-one state sheep producer associations have joined with the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Lamb Feeders Association to promote approval of the American Lamb Referendum.
Producer leaders from across the country have been working on the passage of this referendum since the formation of the "Yes for American Lamb Coalition" last fall.
"It is very encouraging to see the united front of the state and national organizations in support of the continuation of the American lamb program," stated Guy Flora, ASI president.
Flora, a sheep producer from Ohio, added that he is pleased with the activities of the coalition in requesting a ?yes? vote from the industry in the February 2005 referendum. A variety of newsletters, postcards, mailings and news articles are being used by coalition members across the nation requesting producers to vote ?yes? during the month-long referendum.
According to Flora, "This is an industry-wide program with producers, feeders and packing companies paying assessments and implementing promotions for American lamb."
The lamb checkoff is entirely industry funded as is the effort of the coalition.
"No other industry organizations depend on the lamb program for funding or staffing. However, each group does recognize the importance of keeping the American lamb board in place to collect funds and administer domestic lamb-marketing programs," continued Flora.
Due to strong market returns, increased interest in lamb meat and ASI programs encouraging the retention of breeding animals, the U.S. sheep breeding herd increased in 2004 for the first time since 1990. A total of $18 million in payments is being disbursed to sheep producers this month for ewe lambs retained in their breeding herds.
"It is important that producers take the opportunity to vote yes in the referendum so we can continue marketing domestic lamb and keeping profitability high for the increased production of American lamb in 2005," concluded Flora.
Voting will be conducted throughout the month of February at local USDA Farm Service Agency offices.
In 2002, the American Lamb Board was launched to increase demand and expand market share for U.S. lamb. Its 13 volunteer members broadly represent the American lamb industry. The assessment rate for the program calls for sellers to pay one-half cent per pound at the time of sale and packers 30 cents per animal at the time of slaughter.
Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33