Legislative Direction for ASI in 2005
March 31, 2005
March/April 2005 -- Pennsylvania sheep producer and Legislative Action Council Chair Janet Mawhinney opened the meeting in Reno, Nev., by introducing two guest speakers: Danielle Cooke from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Farm Service Agency Price Support Division, and Ric Molen, legislative director for U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.).
Cooke announced that producers who applied and were eligible for payment under the ewe-lamb replacement and retention program would be receiving the full $18 per-head. With 16,217 producers making application on 824,572 lambs, the $14.8 million allocated for payment could be accommodated within the authorized budget.
She also complimented the industry on the perfect record it has attained in that no wool marketing assistance loans (MAL) have gone into a forfeiture status.
The budget/appropriations process will be extremely tight this year. This was the message delivered by Molen to the council as he discussed the priority sheep programs being reviewed for funding by the appropriations committee. With Senator Burns' membership on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Molen maintains a close handle on this process.
The California Wool Growers Association requested the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) attempt to extend the popular ewe-lamb retention program for another year. Fran Boyd indicated that over the last three years, funding for this program was authorized through USDA's Section 32, and it is highly unlikely that these funds will be available for a future extension of this program. Therefore, the council would need to utilize other avenues in attempting to provide additional ewe-lamb payments.
"I think it is important for everyone to understand that an attempt to extend this popular program is in no way a guarantee of its approval. It took the industry a full year to finalize the last extension, so it would not be practical for producers to start planning on participating in the program at this time," commented Peter Orwick, ASI executive director.
The Canadian border situation, funding for Wildlife Services and the next Farm Bill also received thorough and in-depth discussion during the council meeting.
Chairman Mawhinney announced the first week of May, 2005, as the dates of the annual ASI Spring Trip to Washington, D.C.