October 21, 2011
The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC) this week concluded the grant review and selection process for 2011 and informed the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) that it was awarded a $26,000 grant to help fund the sheep industry's "Sheep Producer Mentorship Program -- Introducing New Producers to the Opportunities of the Sheep Industry."
"It's encouraging to have the sheep center operational and providing funding for projects to strengthen the sheep business in this country," commented Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. "ASI secured the authorization and a million dollars in funds in the 2008 Farm Bill so that businesses and organizations could compete for financing that would otherwise likely not be available given the size and infrastructure of the sheep industry."
The grant will be used entirely to fund the development and distribution of the mentor-support items (tool kit, guidelines for mentoring, webinars and a catalog of mostly web-based sheep production education courses) and will be matched by the mentor component of the "Let's Grow" initiative.
"State sheep associations are signing up this fall to establish producer mentor networks via the ASI campaign, and we are pleased the center has joined the partnership with states, the National Lamb Feeders Association and the top lamb and wool companies to increase the sheep inventory in 2011," concluded Orwick.
American lamb and wool is growing faster than production due to increased consumption and increased interest in American wool by the armed services. Nontraditional lamb marketing is projected to be one-third of total consumption; therefore, companies servicing the national grocery chains and restaurants must have more lamb production to maintain these accounts.
The grant proposal invited NSIIC to become a partner in this national initiative to increase American sheep production in an effort to meet increasing demand. The "Let's Grow" initiative includes the already launched "twoPLUS" campaign for current sheep producers. A fiscal year 2012 campaign is being launched to attract and support new sheep producers.
The center plans to post its progress on grants to www.nsiic.org