October 15, 2003
Oct. 2003 -- Before I became President of ASI, I was always impressed by the work our volunteer leaders did for our industry. As president I am even more impressed by the ability of our Executive Board members to juggle their very busy schedules in order to do the work of our association.
Our association has had a very busy summer with an Executive Board meeting in Denver in July and several Board conference calls. As well most of our committees and councils have also worked together through conference calls to ensure that ASI's policies and current resolutions are carried out.
The Legislative Action Council, under the leadership of Janet Mawhinney (Pennsylvania), has kept the pressure on USDA to extend LMAAP for a year. Despite having more than 30 senators and representatives backing our request it may be too difficult a task during this session.
The Council has also responded to the Federal Register notice regarding Trade Adjustment Assistance for farmers and ranchers. ASI believes that this could be extremely helpful for sheep producers.
In July your Executive Board voted to fund support for a tax provision that would encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop products for sheep. As an addendum to the MUMS bill this would expand its effect and give more aid to the expansion of our industry.
The Wool Council, led by Glen Fisher (Texas), has continued its promotion of American wool. The staff and contract employees are some of the best in the business. Good progress is being made toward increasing the military use of wool.
The Council has formed a Strategic Planning Task Force and is working with our general Strategic Planning Committee to ensure future funding for the Wool Council and ASI.
David Trotter (Indiana) and Burdell Johnson (North Dakota) have been working with the various national goat organizations to see if they would be interested in some formal agreement with ASI that would allow us to work together politically. In August Burdell and I attended a Goat Industry Roundtable in Chicago sponsored by National Sheep Industry Improvement Center.
In Chicago the goat group took its first step toward a national organization incorporating all facets of their industry. They are very cognizant of the fact that ASI has aided them in the past. ASI's insistence on including goats in the Livestock Compensation payments for drought disaster and the marketing loan for mohair have assisted their industry tremendously. We may be able to look forward to a Goat Council in ASI's organizational structure in the future.
Margaret Soulen-Hinson (Idaho) is chairwoman of our Risk Management Taskforce. She and her group are working on a plan to insure against the risks of sheep production in a way similar to crop insurance. The Executive Board has voted to apply to the Sheep Center for a grant to develop a risk-management program.
By now the new ASI Web site is up and running with a complete redesign. With a considerable portion of the material on the old site being donated to the new American Lamb Board, a thorough redesign was needed.
David Greene (Maryland), the chairman of our PERC Council, is serving on the National Food Animal ID Task Force. USDA/APHIS is seeking a way to implement a national livestock identification system that would provide 48-hour traceability of all animals in the U.S. food system for homeland security and animal health emergency management purposes.
David, representing ASI, will work toward a system that will be the least onerous to our sheep producers.
We probably have no choice but to work with APHIS to design the best system possible for our industry. As a matter of homeland security APHIS must have the ability to protect our country's food sources.
I have merely skimmed the surface of what your Executive Board and staff have been involved in these past few months. As we go into our fall meetings I hope you will keep in mind all of the issues your association is involved in. At your state meetings give instructions to your state director on these issues and any others that concern your area. Have your Director prepared for the meeting in Sacramento so that ASI can continue to successfully represent our industry in the United States and before the world.