February 5, 2007
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- February 5, 2007 - Henry Bonilla, a San Antonio native who served 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been honored with the first-ever American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Honorary Joe Skeen Award at its 2007 convention in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 27. The award is named for the New Mexico Congressman who was a champion of the U.S. livestock industry and a true leader in programs such as Wildlife Services and livestock protection. It honors fellow sheep producers and recognizes great friends of the sheep industry.
Skeen's wife, Mary, who was present to bestow the honor to Bonilla, said the award means a great deal to her, her late husband, who passed away Dec. 7, 2003, and the industry.
"This award will encourage people in Congress to recognize the importance of the sheep industry and the challenges it faces," said Skeen.
Bonilla, the first Hispanic Republican elected to the House, won by the largest margin of victory ever against an incumbent. He is well known to the Texas sheep industry and to producers around the country and has been a champion for livestock issues during his years of service.
ASI noted that Bonilla represented one of the largest districts with one of highest sheep populations in the country and as chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, he has played key leadership roles on issues like scrapie eradication and preventing the erosion of predator control programs. Some of his accomplishments have included funding the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, wool research, disaster assistance and the wool loan deficiency program in the Farm Bill.
"The sheep industry is stronger today because of Henry Bonilla, a great friend and supporter of our industry" said Glen Fisher, ASI vice-president elect, while presenting the award.
"I want to thank all of you for being a big part of my life as I have enjoyed working with ASI on behalf of important sheep-related legislation during my time in Congress," said Bonilla while demonstrating his appreciation for Joe Skeen, who he followed into the chairman position for the Subcommittee for Agriculture Appropriations.
ASI is a national organization supported by 44 state sheep associations, benefiting the interests of nearly 68,000 sheep producers.