December 15, 2003
Dec. 2003 -- Seasons Greetings! As we enter the holiday seasons we have a great deal to be thankful for. Lamb prices continue to hold at some of the highest levels we have had in years. The high Australian and New Zealand dollar, the closing of the Canadian border have all contributed to our good fortune. Demand for breeding ewes is sky-high as growers expand and new blood attempts to enter the industry.
I hope we can use our good fortune to build our industry and our markets. We need to stabilize our markets. We need to remove some of the volatility that creates a boom-or-bust cycle in our lamb and wool prices.
Your national organization, ASI, has had this as a major goal for many years. This is why we instituted the 201 action. This is why we worked to create the LDP program. This is why we sat down and spoke with New Zealand and Australian sheep farmers this summer.
This is also why Canada, New Zealand and Australia have been invited to send representatives to our convention in Sacramento. We want our foreign competition to see for themselves the strength of ASI and the strength of the American lamb and wool growers? interest in their own industry.
The 2004 convention will be our second joint meeting with the National Lamb Feeders Association. Other groups meeting with us in Sacramento include the American Lamb Board, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and the Western Range Association. In this issue of Sheep Industry News
, you will find the schedule of events and the registration form for the 2004 convention.
Make sure you send your registration to the NEW ASI address: 9785 Maroon Circle; Suite 360; Centennial, CO 80112
. ASI has moved its offices to take advantage of a soft real estate market in Denver. For the same rent that we pay now, we almost double our office space, have increased parking space and better access to the airport. So to better serve our constituents and make better use of their money, we have moved our offices.
In this fall season of state meetings, your ASI officers and executive board members are attempting to attend as many as possible. We are discussing the important issues that ASI is working on and that will be under discussion for action in Sacramento.
Country-of-origin labeling (COOL) continues to be a hot topic in the livestock sector of U.S. agriculture. ASI has for many years supported mandatory labeling of imported lamb as to country of origin. This has become a hot legislative issue with some House members denying funding to implement COOL. ASI's position is that COOL should be implemented in 2004 as authorized in the Farm Bill.
There is currently a proposed Canada BSE rule that would open the border to certain types of live sheep or lambs. ASI is examining the rule and will send written comments before the end of the year. Whatever comments ASI makes will be based solely on the scientific facts regarding BSE and the protection of America's livestock and people.
ASI is continuing to be quite active in the area of National Livestock Identification. By the time you read this we will have named a Sheep ID Working Group to prepare industry policy. We are quite interested in the cost of the program and whether there can be a group ID for large lamb shipments to or from feedlots. Will the program be compatible with the recent Scrapie Eradication Program? We need to know.
We are looking for an insurance program for sheep producers that will take some of the risk out of our industry. Again we are trying to reduce market volatility.
The year 2003 is the first full year for the Wool LDP program. We want to know how successful it is. It seems that a large number are participating, but do we need to improve it so that even larger numbers will use it?
ASI secured a five-fold increase in federal appropriations in 2003 for the Scrapie Eradication Program. More than 50,000 sheep operations are registered in the program. We need to be sure that the $15.5 million appropriated for surveillance, personnel, testing and state cooperative funding is being spent to eliminate scrapie.
All of these issues and more will be acted upon in Sacramento. Make sure that your state director will be there. If you can, attend yourself. You will meet people whose business interests are the same as yours. The fellowship you will enjoy and the new friends you will make will help you over rough spots in the coming year. So come to Sacramento and contribute your ideas to the discussions at one of the oldest livestock associations in the United States -- the American Sheep Industry Association.