August 25, 2006
August 25, 2006 - Great Falls, Mont., was the location of a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee field hearing on the next Farm Bill. President of the Montana WoolGrowers Association, Betty Sampsel of Stanford, Mont., provided testimony to the panel which included: Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)
Sampsel began by thanking the senators from Montana for their outstanding leadership and support of wool issues, both of the American Wool Trust as well as the procurement of wool for military use. She followed up with a discussion of sheep industry priorities for the 2007 Farm Bill including modifications to the loan deficiency program for wool, the continuation of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and support of the retained ewe-lamb program being top considerations.
Inequities exist between the sheep industries of the United States and that of the European Union (EU). The United States has no barriers on lamb meat imports and as such has become the market of choice for lamb exporters from around the world. The EU maintains strict and effective tariff-rate quotas on lamb imports along with providing more than $2 billion annually in government price support and subsides to its sheep producers.
"Our industry looks to the agriculture committee's role for industry programs in the next Farm Bill as well as the committee's role in pushing for aggressive reform of Europe's agriculture programs and barriers to assist the domestic sheep business," commented Sampsel.
Other topics of discussion during the Montana field hearing were the Conservation Reserve Program and the expanding problems arising from invasive and noxious weeds in the state.
"Sheep producers have been aggressive and creative in their approach to national initiatives that strengthen the domestic industry," concluded Sampsel. "I want to thank you for this opportunity to provide to you the priorities of the sheep industry for the next Farm Bill." Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33