March 15, 2004
Mar/Apr 2004 -- Pennsylvania sheep producer and Legislative Action Council Chair Janet Mawhinney opened the meeting in Sacramento, Calif., by introducing two guest speakers: Fitzhugh Elder, United States Senate, Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development & Related Agencies, and Lance Kotschwar, Counsel, United States Senate, Committee on Agriculture.
Elder, as deputy clerk for the subcommittee chaired by Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), reported on the initial plans for the fiscal year 2005 appropriations for agriculture. Several key sheep programs were mentioned by council members, including: the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center's request for appropriations, Wildlife Services and Scrapie Eradication and research.
Other items of discussion included:
- A proposal to seek tax-incentive legislation for pharmaceuticals/biologics to increase labeling of sheep products in the United States that currently are not available.
- Industry briefs developed early in 2003 regarding the proposed free trade agreement between the United States and Australia. As of the date of the meeting, the agreement had not been negotiated. However, the sheep industry has little to gain or lose from the agreement. There are no restrictions in place today on either lamb or wool that impact trade or the level of imports. This is markedly different from other commodities that are fighting to protect trade restrictions put in place decades ago.
- Interstate shipment of state-inspected meat, a long-standing policy of ASI. Efforts to secure this legislation continue.
- General policy resolutions. Several policies were addressed for presentation to the ASI board of directors later in the week.
Mawhinney also asked for discussion regarding the possibility of ASI requesting an extension of the Wool Trust provision in 2004. Council members agreed this would be a top priority.