May 12, 2006 -- The message was clear during two U.S. House Committee on Agriculture field hearings this past week in Colorado and Texas ? there will not be additional funding for the 2007 Farm Bill. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) was represented in testimony by John Bartmann, president of the Colorado Wool Growers Association, who attended the hearing in Greeley, Colo., and Glen Fisher, secretary/treasurer of ASI, who spoke at the San Angelo, Texas, hearing.
ASI?s priorities are two-fold in the 2007 Farm Bill: 1) set the Wool Loan Deficiency Program (LDP) at a base loan rate of $1.20 per pound, instead of the $1 per pound in the current farm bill, to provide producers the full benefit of the program as intended, and 2) support the re-authorization of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center.
Since the implementation of the 2002 Farm Bill, total payments for the wool LDP for each of the 2002 through 2005 crop years was $7.8 million, $7 million, $7.3 million and $6.1 million, respectively, with a budget of $20 million annually. This significant difference between the annual cost estimate and the actual payment total, as well as the fact that nearly all participation was in only one loan category out of nine, supports the request for the program to be authorized at the base rate of $1.20 per pound.
NSIIC has played a crucial role in the sheep industry since its development by providing loans and grants to business ventures with projects to strengthen the sheep industry. The center has provided 56 loans to 38 entities in 21 states. The total volume of dollars that have been loaned since 2000 totals approximately $15.5 million and has provided 58 grants equaling more than $20 million.
At the San Angelo hearing, one Congressmen commended the industry on how impressed he was with the successes achieved by the U.S. sheep industry. He specifically mentioned the industry?s ability to approve a lamb check off promotion program along with its wool marketing successes.
These field hearings were two of the 12 scheduled around the country. In addition to Colorado and Texas, members of the committee have attended hearings in North Carolina, Alabama, California and Nebraska.
A web-based farm bill feedback form has been launched on the House Committee on Agriculture Web site. This form allows producers throughout the nation to provide the committee with feedback about current farm policy, as well as input about the future of farm policy. To submit comments, go to: www.agriculture.house.gov/inside/feedbackform.html.
Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33