The U.S. House of Representatives' Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) today begins a series of field hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill.
Cindy Siddoway, a fourth-generation sheep producer from Idaho and a past president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), will provide testimony during the Idaho hearing on Saturday. U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick (Idaho) is hosting the committee hearing in his home state.
In her testimony, Siddoway speaks to the increase of the base loan rate for the wool loan deficiency program that was implemented this year as a result of the 2008 Farm Bill and that, to date, only one loan rate is working for producers as has been the case since the original inception of the program. As this is the very first hearing of many expected in the next year to formulate the new bill, the sheep industry looks forward to discussing options for the wool loan deficiency program to ensure a workable safety net for producers.
The ASI comments also support the continuation of the Sheep Industry Improvement Center in the 2012 Farm Bill. It is expected that the oversight board will be appointed by the secretary and that the program will be operational before the committee finalizes the 2012 Farm Bill.
Siddoway will describe the national plan being developed this year by lamb and wool companies, feeders and producers to increase the sheep inventory in the United States. ASI will share the plan with the agriculture committee for consideration in Farm Bill discussions.
Finally, the testimony reminds the committee that the United States has no barriers to lamb meat imports and, as such, has become the market of choice for lamb exporters from around the world. However, no new markets have been opened up to American sheep products nor do U.S. producers have any kind of program similar to that of the European sheep producers' payment program that provides them $2 billion annually.
The Farm Bill is major legislation that authorizes many government farm support, conservation, energy, trade, marketing, food assistance and rural development programs over several years. The current Farm Bill was signed into law in 2008, and many of the provisions in that bill will expire in September 2012.
Farm Bill hearings are scheduled to be held in Iowa, Idaho, California, Wyoming, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and South Dakota.
Complete information about the 2012 Farm Bill hearings is available at http://agriculture.house.gov, and the complete ASI statement being delivered by Siddoway is available at www.sheepusa.org.