July 15, 2003
President?s Notes: U.S., Australia and New Zealand Reps Talk Lamb
By Guy Flora, President, American Sheep Industry Association, Inc.
At our national convention in Washington in February our Board of Directors passed a motion requesting our officers or other members of ASI to meet with our opposite numbers from Australia and New Zealand. Later, U.S. Congressman Charles Stenholm (D-TX) volunteered to host a Lamb Summit meeting in San Angelo, Texas. Congressman Stenholm asked ASI to work with Meat & Livestock Australia and Meat New Zealand to develop the agenda and scope of the meeting and to invite participants who would represent their country's lamb industries.
More than 30 people attended the meeting hosted by Angelo State University and Congressman Stenholm. Our industry owes a debt of gratitude to Congressman Stenholm and Dr. E. James Hindman, president of Angelo State, for their time and their kind services in an attempt to aid our industry.
As ASI president, I also want to thank our own Peter Orwick for his work on coordinating industry research and statistics as well as facilitating the travel schedules of the attendees. My thanks also to Dr. Brian May of Angelo State for arranging tours and ground transport and to the Angelo Food Service department for some of the best lamb I have ever eaten.
Australia was represented by The Honorable Ambassador Michael Thawley and members of Meat & Livestock Australia; New Zealand by members of Meat New Zealand and the Right Honorable Mike Moore, former New Zealand Prime Minister; the United States by Pat Jackson, George Sultemeier and Chico Denis of the Texas Sheep & Goat Raisers? Association; Pierce Miller for the Mohair Council; Cleve Dumdi and Tom Watson, officers of National Lamb Feeders Association; Tom Kourlis, Mike Guerry and David Winters of the American Lamb Board, Glen Fisher, chair of ASI's Wool Council, Paul Frischknecht, vice president of ASI and myself.
Discussions centered around the American market and consumption of lamb in the United States. Both Australia and New Zealand believe that "managing supply" would be toxic to any future talks.
Congressman Stenholm relayed the general opinion that the dollar will continue to drop. This will increase the cost of imported lamb compared to the huge advance importers have had in recent years from their weak currencies.
Ambassador Thawley said that their studies showed that Americans prefer the taste of U.S. lamb. In spite of this, they were willing to put money into a generic lamb promotion scheme to increase U. S. consumption.
New Zealand is in the throes of creating a new lamb and wool organization with a referendum coming up this month. At this time they could offer nothing concrete but wished to continue talks.
All three countries have been invited to a meeting in Washington D.C., this fall to continue discussion. The meeting is to be hosted by Australia.
All of this brings us to the readers of Sheep Industry News -- the members of ASI. What do you want us to do? We have agreed to one more meeting with an agenda yet to be decided. What do you want us to discuss with our marketing rivals?
Do we want some written agreement with them? A mutual generic promotion plan? How do we finance this? We would like your views and suggestions. Either contact ASI by letter or e-mail, or talk to your state president or state ASI director, or contact me at P.O. Box 97; Cardington, OH 43315 or e-mail me at email@example.com
We need your thoughts. We must meet with them before our Board of Directors meet in Sacramento in January 2004.