September 22, 2006
September 22, 2006 - Paul Frischknecht, president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and Utah producer, testified on federal farm policy for the Committee on Agriculture at the U.S. House of Representatives hearing in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20.
?I was honored to be given the opportunity to visit with the members of this committee and to be able to provide them with the priorities of the sheep industry,? commented Frischknecht of his experience.
Frischknecht?s testimony relayed for the entire committee what fellow producers had provided in testimony at field hearings in Colorado, Texas and South Dakota.
Inclusion of the Wool Loan Deficiency Program for shorn wool and unshorn pelts in the last Farm Bill was helpful. However, it is clear that the base loan rate should be set at $1.20 per pound (the current rate is $1) as supported in the initial research. This would allow the program to work for all producers as was intended.
Reauthorization of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center continues to be an industry priority. The 1996 legislation allowed for the authorization of $50 million to the center. To complete this authorization, $20 million in funding must still be allocated. Frischknecht addressed the conservation title of the next Farm Bill requesting the inclusion of prescriptive livestock grazing utilizing sheep in particular for the control of noxious weeds and invasive species. Cost-share programs should be directed to prescriptive grazing projects to provide financial and technical assistance to promote grazing controls on federal, state, municipal, tribal or private lands.
International trade will have a bearing on the Farm Bill legislation. The sheep industry believes the federal government must address the inequity of the $2 billion of subsidies and meat import restrictions practiced by the European Union for its sheep producers.
In closing, Frischknecht asked the committee to consider an additional concern that should be dealt with immediately, authorization of a Livestock Risk Protection product for lamb (LRP-Lamb). LRP?Lamb has been under consideration by the U.S. Department of Agriculture since 2004. The lamb industry does not have any price-risk management tools and is requesting a pilot program as has been provided for cattle and swine.
Disaster assistance for agriculture was a common theme among hearing witnesses representing national agriculture and commodity groups as was the concern that the Farm Bill should not be a platform for activists groups. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33