March 15, 2004
Mar/Apr 2004 --
Sheep Center Appointments Announced
Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman announced on Feb. 24, 2004, appointments to the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC) board of directors. William (Bill) Blake of Michigan was reappointed to the board while Clark Willis of Utah was appointed to his first term.
Blake will continue to serve in a position reserved for "expertise in lamb, wool or goat product marketing." He has been involved with meat cutting and marketing for more than 60 years in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes area with 25 years being devoted to regional marketing director for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI).
Willis will fill a position reserved for an "active producer of sheep or goats in the U.S." He brings with him a life-long background as a sheep producer as well the diversity of being a rural appraiser, ranch consultant, rural realtor and livestock nutrition specialist. Willis is the executive director of the Utah Wool Growers Association.
"We are very pleased to see the appointments of both Bill and Clark. ASI nominated both of these men for their dedication to the industry and their ability to carry forward the important programs and funding opportunities the Center will be involved with in future years," stated ASI President Guy Flora of Ohio.
The Board of Directors consists of seven voting members chosen from the sheep and goat industries. ASI secured congressional authorization of the Center in the 1996 Farm Bill to provide financial assistance through a variety of funding mechanisms for the enhancement and marketing of sheep products in the United States with an emphasis on infrastructure development.
Sheep Center Beginning Process to Reach Privatization by 2006
The sheep industry is going back to Congress to seek release of the balance of funding for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC), an effort that Paul Lewis said will require the help of legislators from sheep-producing states.
Lewis, a member of the center's board appointed in January 2003 and a producer with a 1,000-ewe operation in California's Central Valley, told the American Sheep Industry in Sacramento that the center will begin the process this year to reach privatization by Sept. 30, 2006.
"This will allow us to continue our goal of helping improve the infrastructure of the American sheep and goat industries into perpetuity," said Lewis, "and take the next step toward our goal of becoming self sustaining without having to go back to Congress each year."
Congress earmarked $50 million for the center in 1997 to help build the infrastructure for the U.S. sheep industry and only a little over half that amount has actually been provided. The center is currently focused in two principle areas -- grants and interest loans.
Lewis said $300,000 in grant funding has been approved for the next round, which will be announced in late summer, and he encouraged industry members to submit proposals. Last year, he said, 70 grant applications were submitted requesting more than $2.6 million. Of that, 15 were funded for a total of $300,000. For a listing and summary of grants, check the center's Web site at www.nsiic.org.
The low-interest loan program is managed by the National Livestock Producers Association of Colorado Springs through an agreement signed in November 1999. The program, set up initially with $14 million, currently has assets of $14.8 million and a portfolio of 26 loans.
For more information, contact Jay Wilson, executive director and chief executive officer of the center, (202) 690-0632 or e-mail email@example.com
ASI was the sponsoring organization that led to the creation of the center in 1996. It also is the original "Certified National Sheep Organization" to nominate directors to the NSIIC board.