February 15, 2008
February 15, 2008 - The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) initiated a coalition letter supporting an increase in funding in the 2009 appropriations bill for livestock protection programs administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services (WS) agency. This program is crucial to a healthy sheep and cattle industry in the United States.
Well over 250,000 sheep and nearly 150,000 cattle are lost to predators each year. The value of livestock lost to predators and predator control costs are major expenses in the livestock industries. Producers continue to experience increased livestock production costs with higher predator control costs and skyrocketing fuel costs being just two examples.
Letters were sent to the leadership of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agencies at both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. A total of 46 national sheep and cattle producer organizations, wildlife management and state government entities supported the effort in the Western United States, with 36 industry groups signing onto the letter requesting additional funding for the Eastern region.
Livestock production is an important component of agriculture across the country; however, predator problems and wildlife conflicts are increasing. The proposed increase in livestock protection funding will assist individual producers, state and county governments and the WS agency to better address predator management. Without additional federal funding to support existing livestock protection programs, predation management expertise will be lost and livestock grazing in some areas will be jeopardized.
"These joint industry letters of support should be helpful to each state coalition of livestock and agriculture groups including, sheep, cattle and farm bureaus, to generate interest from their congressional delegation to sponsor increased funding," commented Bill Sparrow, co-chair of ASI's Legislative Action Council and North Carolina sheep producer. "The associations' legislative council was pleased to coordinate the two letters and encourages the state livestock leaders to now contact their members of Congress through mid-March requesting appropriations for livestock protection," concluded Sparrow.
Wildlife management programs are funded in variety of ways from state to state with federal funding being just one source. State, county, private industry and predator districts are carrying the bulk of the livestock protection efforts. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33