Lead Story -- Enthusiasm For U.S. Sheep Industry?s Future
March 31, 2005
March/April 2005 -- There was great enthusiasm for the future of the U.S. sheep industry at the 2005 American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)/National Lamb Feeders Association (NLFA) Annual Convention Jan. 26-29 in Reno, Nev. Registrations topped those seen in recent years, with attendance surpassing 360.
"The industry definitely demonstrated a unified front with participation from five national sheep associations including ASI, NLFA, the American Lamb Board, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and the Western Range Association," stated ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. "Additionally, all major players in the domestic wool industry had a strong presence again at this year's events, and everyone was pleased to hear U.S. production of lamb and wool would be increasing in 2005."
The convention schedule was filled with workshops and presentations covering multiple aspects relevant to the industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Wildlife Services Agency presented a predator management workshop, which focused on the economics of predation management in relation to livestock and wildlife. Multiple studies demonstrate positive effects when a predator management plan is utilized. Results show predation rates in adult sheep decreased from 5.7 to 1.6 percent and from 17.5 to 6 percent in lambs.
USDA, Deputy Under Secretary, Jim Butler, Ph.D., congratulated the industry on its ability to increase sheep numbers for the first time since 1990. He also informed attendees 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 payment. Applications were made by 16,217 producers on 824,572 lambs totaling $14.8 million.
Also addressing convention goers was USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Administrator, W. Ron DeHaven, DVM. He stressed the agencies commitment to the sheep industry by pledging long-term support to the scrapie eradication process and continued support for Veterinary Services and Wildlife Services programs. DeHaven provided an update on the intent of the agency to reopen the border between the United States and Canada. The results of the investigation by USDA's technical team in Canada will provide guidance on the next steps to be taken.
The American Lamb Board highlighted its promotional activities of the past year by sharing ad copy as well as segments of film footage promoting American lamb. Raising awareness of domestic lamb was a common thread throughout the campaign.
Sheep leaders reviewed the progress on the ASI initiative to secure a Livestock Risk Protection program for the lamb industry. Discussion pursued as to the steps to be taken this winter to implement the program.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) representative, Ron Cole, conveyed that ARS began reporting wool on a clean basis by region rather than individual sales on a grease basis. This type of reporting provides the producer with more complete information on wool values, encourages more companies to share information and is a more internationally accepted type of reporting.
Bob Padula, ASI's wool quality improvement consultant, provided details about the implementation of two new quality improvement programs - the "Certified Clip" and "Certified Shearing." The self-certifying shearing declaration provides a way to certify that wool will be shorn and prepared properly. The board was also pleased to see a wool/nomex flight suit. The suit was made of fire-retardant fabric and was developed by ASI with Natick for military use.
For the second consecutive year, a panel of international sheep industry representatives provided insight into the industries of their respective countries. Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand made available producer presenters to speak with participants about the issues affecting the sheep industry in their countries.
Major policy additions or amendments addressed by the board included:
The board of directors also welcomed back into membership sheep producers from Iowa and Delaware.
- an opposition to the U.S. reopening the Canadian border to sheep trade until the trade barriers concerning bluetongue and anaplasmosis are eliminated;
- industry support of an effort to amend the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act of 2004 to include language that would provide federal tax incentives for the development and labeling of pharmaceuticals for sheep;
- ASI assistance to USDA/APHIS in requiring all states to attain consistent state status for scrapie eradication; and
- approval of an across-the-board membership dues increase for fiscal year 2006-2007.
The "Yes for American Lamb Coalition" was well represented during the convention with all sheep organizations participating in promoting approval of the American Lamb referendum during the month of February.
Elected to the leadership role as ASI president was Paul Frischknecht from Manti, Utah. Burdell Johnson from Tuttle, N.D., moves into the vice president position while Sonora, Texas, sheep producer, Glen Fisher, was elected secretary/treasurer.
New regional representatives on the board include: Brant Miller, Maine, Region I; Bill Sparrow, N.C., Region II; Jim Bristol, Mich., Region III; and DA Harral, Texas, Region V. Lyndon Irwin, Mo., and Richard Hamilton, Calif., were re-elected for second-terms to represent Regions IV and VIII.
"Industry leaders have committed huge resources to incentives and national programs to grow the U.S. sheep business, so the announcement of the inventory report was very positively received," added Orwick. "Conducting the meeting on the eve of the lamb referendum was also fortunate as leaders view the promotion of programs for increased lamb production a necessity."