January 2005 -- This will be the last President?s column that I will write for Sheep Industry News. I hope that in the last two years I haven?t bored you too much. I am still excited about our industry and may have tended to be too effusive on some occasions.
The month of November was especially crowded with the presidential election, the Tri-Lamb meeting in Australia, the extension of the Wool Trust and early in December the naming of a new Secretary of Agriculture.
The Tri-Lamb meeting was a great experience, and I feel we made progress in preserving the American lamb market as the highest-valued one in the world. The agreement to share among the three countries when and where we will be emphasizing our products in order that we don?t all enter the same market at the same time is a good one. The development of a shared consumer education program for the United States and collaborating on animal ID, animal health priorities and general industry information should help us all.
One of our legislative priorities for the year was met in November when Mandatory Price Reporting was reauthorized. We all need to thank our two senators from Montana along with Bob Gilbert for all their assistance to our industry this year. Senator Burns made sure that sheep producers would be participating in the livestock assistance drought program this winter. Senator Baucus?s direct leadership resulted in extending the Wool Trust for two years. Senator Burns also introduced legislation to make COOL mandatory in 2005 and to make it apply to restaurant sales as well as grocery sales.
Our staff, led by Peter Orwick, has been extremely active along with Meyers & Associates in Washington D.C. Our Executive Board and our Legislative Action Council have all worked to achieve our goals for our industry this year. Our success in the legislative realm is due to their efforts.
Now it is your turn! Next month you will be voting in a referendum on our lamb checkoff. The Lamb Board uses this money to promote American Lamb. This is the only national promotion of American Lamb. ASI does not utilize lamb checkoff money. None is used in politics or lobbying. All of it goes for promotion and education.
We, the producers, must pass this referendum by a majority vote of producers and sheep numbers. Without promotion all the good work done by our staff, our officers, our executive board, our committees and our friends in Congress won?t be worth a ?tinker?s damn!?
Without national promotion of our American product as American, we become a commodity. If we are a commodity, we are interchangeable. If we are interchangeable, who needs us?
When it is time for the Referendum vote, please vote Yes! for our American