January 11, 2008
January 11 2008 - With the conference between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives on the Farm Bill underway, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) communicated the industries priorities of the House and Senate versions to the congressional agriculture leadership.
"The provisions we support in the next Farm Bill will impact the entire sheep industry and are designed to benefit producers of all sized operations across all parts of the United States," commented Burdell Johnson, ASI president. "ASI has worked all year for programs to improve flock health and asked congressional leaders to finalize legislation with these provisions in tact."
The industry applauds the efforts of both chambers in securing an increase in the base loan rate of the loan deficiency program for wool as well as the reauthorization of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center. Increasing the loan level to $1.20 for wool and the inclusion of mandatory "seed" money for the center are the two issues on the top of U.S. sheep producers' Farm Bill priority list.
In addition, ASI strongly supports the inclusion of a tax title in the next Farm Bill to provide a tax credit for companies willing to develop pharmaceuticals for minor species such as sheep. Many of the animal health products available in Europe, Australia and New Zealand are not available to producers in America because of a smaller sheep inventory, therefore, less chance to recoup the development costs of pharmaceuticals.
As the conferees work to resolve the differences between the two pieces of legislation, we hope the livestock programs contained in the Senate's permanent disaster trust fund can be accommodated in the final conference report. Areas such as western South Dakota are in their eighth consecutive year of drought, yet a disaster package from congress has not provided relief since 2002. A permanent program would certainly help provide farmers and ranchers more timely relief.
Other authorizations the sheep industry strongly supports include the Minor-Use Animal Drug Program (NRSP-7). This program assists with research aimed at developing new health products by authorizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and land-grant universities research efforts that have been vital to research for the past 20 years.
Another animal disease provision sheep producer's support in conference is the authorization of a research priority at USDA to conduct research related to health status, including infectious diseases of bighorn and domestic sheep under range conditions. Domestic sheep grazing has been seriously impacted by conflicts with bighorns despite the void of scientific findings on disease mechanisms.
"We strongly support interstate shipment of state inspected meat and mandatory country of origin labeling of lamb meat, two provisions that ought to be in the final bill," concluded Johnson. "It is our hope that you will be able to accommodate each of these provisions as our industry continues its effort to expand the sheep inventory in the face of severe international competition and unfair trade practices." Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33