December, 2004 -- Happy Holidays! It is hard to believe that I am already penning my December column. It seems as though it was just a few weeks ago that we were juggling harvesting duties with fair activities, and everyday chores with the ongoing activities that come with association involvement.
I know my schedule is no exception. Most of you wear many hats as well, and probably could use at least a few more hours each day in which to complete any number of tasks from the seemingly never-ending ?to do? list.
Yes, the fall crops are in and the county and state fair activities for 2004 are complete. But in their place are annual state sheep association conventions and the requisite sheep-industry issues that are immune to holidays and seasons, and ensure an active agenda for producers and associations alike.
As a reader of Sheep Industry News, you know that sign-up for the ewe-lamb replacement and retention program is now complete. It is anticipated that USDA?s Farm Service Agency will begin issuing these payments in early December. It took nearly two years to deliver this final installment of the program, and I thank you for your patience.
The $18 million in funding will assist our industry in its long-term commitment to stabilizing and expanding herd numbers. We thank the Bush Administration for delivering this worthwhile program.
As you wrap up your financial records for calendar year 2004, I sincerely hope you will consider a contribution to ASI or your state association for the assistance they have provided during this strong revenue year for U.S. sheep producers.
You probably read in the November edition of this publication about an exciting endeavor for our industry, the Livestock Risk Protection-Lamb program. The goal of the LRP-Lamb pilot program is to offer sheep and lamb producers a user-friendly, easily understandable, risk-management tool that efficiently and effectively protects against price fluctuations. Simply put, the tool will allow producers to simultaneously price their lambs over an extended time-frame, with continuous protection, for all time periods during the year.
Even though we have just cleared the first step in delivering this program and have months of work ahead of us, I want to remind the industry that we have already invested a year of time and $50,000 in funding.
ASI Executive Director, Peter Orwick, recently met with representatives of the Federal Crop Insurance Corp. to review the proposed pilot project for lamb. The next step is for the LRP-Lamb to undergo an external review -- a routine procedure for all risk-management programs.
Our goal is to secure approval for a pilot program in 2005 and run a field test on the proposal to fine-tune the operation and gauge the interest of producers and feeders for a tool that would minimize the price volatility of lambs.
It is too early to announce a launch date for LRP-Lamb, but we do know it will be in 2005 and hopefully no later than mid-year.
There is also much anticipation about the 2005 ASI/National Lamb Feeders Association joint meeting in Reno. We will again have members from several groups gathering under one roof to learn, converse and enjoy long-standing traditions such as the Make It Yourself With Wool National Competition and the RAMS PAC Reception, at which Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) has been invited to speak.
A reminder to all state sheep association leadership: Please submit proposed policies to Mary Jensen at ASI by December 10th.
A convention registration form and schedule of events can be found on pages 12 and 13 of this edition. See you in Reno!