The American Lamb Board (ALB) recently approved a project to assess the industry's operational practices as they relate to the impact on the economic viability of producers, regional employment and purchasing, animal care and the environment. This broad scale sustainability assessment is intended to be a positive step for the lamb and sheep industry as it identifies best practices that can make the industry more efficient. It will also collect information about the challenges the industry will face in order to enhance its future.
"The lamb consumer today is very well educated and they specifically look for healthy, quality foods," said Megan Wortman, executive director of ALB. "They are more and more interested in where their food comes from, how it is raised and how it impacts the environment. This study is the industry's first step in a collective effort to understand these issues and identify our strengths."
The project, managed by Common Fields and Fleishman-Hillard, is guided by a sustainability working group that includes members of ALB, American Sheep Industry Association, independent feeders and producers and academic advisors. Based on the foundation they provided in the assessment metrics, the managing team is visiting 22 ranches and farms across all U.S. regions that represent a variety of production systems. The information collected will inform a larger survey that will go to industry members involved in commercial lamb production that delivers products to a broad range of customers.
"It is vital that our industry members participate in the survey that we anticipate will be sent out in June of this year," said Wortman. "The response to this survey is going to be our best ally in responding to issues and informing the public about our industry."
Wortman indicated she is looking forward to using the assessment information to integrate into industry, customer and consumer communications. "We know there are good stories about our industry, our people and the important product we produce. We need this credible third-party view of where we stand, what we are doing right and where we have room for improvement."