May 15, 2004
May 2004 --
American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) President Guy Flora recently submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies, concerning agricultural appropriations for FY 2005.
His formal testimony also was submitted to the Senate Subcommittee on Appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, and related agencies.
"Sheep industry priorities include rebuilding and strengthening our infrastructure primarily through the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC), critical predatory control activities, fully funding our national animal health efforts and expanding research capabilities," stated Flora.
COOL May Be Back
- NSIIC, with its two programs -- the intermediary low interest direct loan program and the direct grant program -- is crucial to the industry. ASI fully supports the appropriation for the balance of the sheep center's authorized spending of $22 million.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, along with the industry, is in the position to eradicate scrapie from the United States through a multi-year attack on this animal health issue. ASI is very appreciative for the increased appropriations approved in FY 2003 and FY 2004 of $15.47 million, but urges the subcommittee to support the President's request of $21 million in the 2005 budget toward a scrapie-free status for the U.S. sheep industry.
- More than one-quarter million sheep and lambs are lost to predators each year, making this expense second only to feed costs. ASI requested that the Committee restore the Wildlife Services funding levels that are decreased in the Administration's FY 2005 budget to that equal to or greater than FY 2004. Consideration of funding for wolf depredation management, information technology support systems, research and development and livestock protection methods also were mentioned.
U.S. Reps. Mary Bono (R-CA) and Darlene Hooley (D-OR) introduced on March 18, 2004, legislation to reinstate a mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law. According to this House bill, foodmakers and grocers would begin applying COOL labels on red meat, seafood, produce and peanuts on Sept. 30, 2004.
The legislation is meant to reverse a two-year delay approved by Congress in January and return to the original implementation date set in the 2002 Farm Bill.
Despite the outcome of this bill, Arkansas retailer, Wal-Mart, has announced that it plans to voluntarily comply with COOL regulations for fruits and vegetables.
According to Wal-Mart, the first step is to create a "traceability protocol," which will allow the company to know where its products originate. The plan is to have this protocol in place by the end of this year with the next step being the development of a labeling program.
ASI a Part of Coalition to Promote U.S. Agriculture Exports
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has joined more than 80 agricultural groups in signing a statement to promote U.S. agricultural exports. The statement, drafted by the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, was recently submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, in support of FY '05 funding.
An excerpt from the statement reads, "For FY 05, the Farm Bill authorized funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) at $140 million and Foreign Market Development (FMD) is authorized at $34.5 million. The Coalition strongly urges that both programs be funded at the full authorized levels in order to carry out important market development activities."
The programs are among the few tools specifically allowed under WTO rules to help American agriculture and American workers remain competitive in a global marketplace still characterized by subsidized foreign competition. By any measure, the programs have been tremendously successful and extremely cost-effective in helping maintain and expand U.S. agricultural exports, protect American jobs and strengthen farm income. The USDA's export programs, such as MAP and FMD, are a key part of an overall trade strategy that is pro-growth, pro-trade and pro-job.
ASI is a national cooperator in programs designed to promote sales of American wool.
ASI Executive Board Members Meet in Denver
American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Executive Board members gathered in Denver in late February for their first quarterly meeting of the year. The top agenda item was the appointment of ASI council and committee members, who were selected from amongst many qualified nominees put forth by state and industry leaders.
A total of 153 appointments to 13 councils and committees were filled.
"It is exciting to have such a diverse, nationwide representation on the councils and committees," stated ASI President Guy Flora. "The executive board is very pleased with the willingness of producers to serve in these volunteer positions that assist in determining the direction of their industry."
Other actions taken during the meeting included:
Meat Spending Rises
- a decision to sponsor a booth at the World Sheep and Wool Congress in Quebec, Canada in July; and
- a motion to support efforts of state association leaders to organize a meeting between U.S. Congressional leaders, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials and sheep producers regarding problems with herders breaking H2A labor contracts.
Meat Demand Trends reported in late March that British consumers are spending more on lamb and beef than on pork. Spending on fresh and frozen lamb and beef was up 8 percent, compared with 2002, while there was only a 1-percent rise in bacon and pork.