President's Notes -- Working Together Works
March 31, 2005
March/April 2005 -- Greetings! As you may have heard by now, I was elected president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) at the association's 2005 convention in Reno. I am honored to serve as president for an association that boasts more than 9,800 dedicated and diversified members from coast to coast.
Currently, there is a terrific enthusiasm among producers, which was reflected in the largest-attended and most-successful convention in years. The theme for the convention was simple and succinct: "Working Together Works." Those three words say a lot to me. There is now a greater spirit of cooperation and communication in our industry than I can remember in times past. This willingness to "work together" has allowed us to collectively provide input and problem-solve on wide-ranging issues that affect everyone's profitability.
While we have had - and continue to have - our challenges, we also have many reasons to look forward with optimism. Recent and current lamb prices have been encouraging, and it appears that there is a significant amount of forward contracting for lambs born in 2005 in the neighborhood of prices attained in 2004. It also appears that wool prices in 2005 will be just as strong as, and most likely stronger, than those of 2004. We have every indication that we will be at the table when the amount of funding for Wildlife Services is decided. Lastly, representatives from the United States, New Zealand and Australia will be meeting again for a third Tri-Lamb meeting, this time in the fall of 2005.
With the hopes of improving relations between the U.S., Canadian and Mexican sheep industries, Javier Lara-Pastor, secretary of the Mexican Sheep Producers Association, proposed an offer to develop a "North American Sheep Producers Federation" to the board of directors at the annual meeting. This Federation would focus on many aspects affecting the sheep industry, such as animal health, trade issues and industry protection. I believe it would be of best interest for our industry that ASI pursue this concept and determine if such a proposal could be of benefit to U.S. sheep producers.
By the time this edition of Sheep Industry News rolls off the press, we may know the outcome of our own country's lamb referendum. All indications prior to the vote were in favor. Forty-one state sheep producer associations joined with ASI, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Lamb Feeders Association to promote approval of the American Lamb Referendum. I am hopeful that the industry voted its passage, and that the American Lamb Board can continue the many worthwhile programs that are increasing the amount of American lamb being served in both households and restaurants nationwide.
I look forward to serving as president over the next year and hope that next year's annual convention in Phoenix, Ariz., proves to be just as successful and even better attended than this one.