August 15, 2003
By Guy Flora, President, American Sheep Industry Association
Here in Ohio the crops are looking good after a fairly miserable start. Some had to be replanted, other fields have the remains of large mud flats from earlier flooding. But the grass is holding up well, a lot of hay has been made and lamb prices are still running over a dollar. It's time to relax a little and enjoy the state and county fair season.
The conversations between old friends around the show ring and in the barn always cover a wide range of subjects from lamb prices, to the local football team, to whose grandson is dating whose granddaughter. We all complain about taxes, politics, both local and national, and the judges? selections in the ring.
This year I'm asking you to expand your barn conversation range to include talk about membership in the various sheep organizations to which you belong. If you are reading this in Sheep Industry News
then you must be a member of your state organization. But what about your friends and neighbors? Are they?
ASI is only as strong as the state organizations that make up its membership. If your state director is to represent your states ideas at our national convention, then your state membership should represent the broadest cross-section possible of the sheep industry in your state.
We need to explain to our friends and neighbors exactly what our state organizations, working through ASI, have done to put money in their pockets. We need to talk to them about how things such as Wildlife Services and emergency wool payments have helped them stay profitable. How the various parts of LMAAP -- from the facility payments to ewe-lamb retention money -- have kept them in business so they can now enjoy the highest lamb prices in years.
We need to explain to them that the best way to support ASI is to support their state organization. Being a member of your state organization is first of all a business decision. If you are in the business of raising lamb and wool, then you need to meet with and speak with like-minded business people.
Just as the local store owner will join his business colleagues in joining the Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce, those of us in the sheep business need to meet together and exchange ideas.
I realize that many good ideas come from "back of the barn" meetings at sheep shows and sales just as local businessmen can talk while watching a Little League game. However, if we want these ideas to influence our national sheep business then they need to go to a national organization. Membership in a state organization affiliated with ASI gives us the opportunity to get national exposure for these "back of the barn" ideas.
Many years ago my wife and I bought a lifetime membership in the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. It has paid for itself many times over. It gave us access to people and ideas that working on our own we never could have reached. We were convinced then of the importance of a state sheep organization and we remain so today.
If each of us could this year convince one person to join us, we would double the number of national sheep raisers represented in Washington D.C. In Washington numbers do count! Representing 20,000 sheepmen and women rather than 10,000 gives us twice as much clout. Just imagine what we might accomplish then!
So as we stand around the show ring or same ring let's do a little missionary work among our friends and neighbors. Let?s see if we can double our memberships and swell our fall and winter meetings to the place that we must find new accommodations. Let?s make our motto for this fall "Each one, bring one.?