September 26, 2003
Sheep producers from Australia, New Zealand and the United States met in Washington, D.C., on Thursday of this week. The following national organizations were represented: American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), National Lamb Feeders Association (NLFA), Sheepmeat Council of Australia, Federated Farmers of New Zealand, Meat & Livestock Australia and Meat New Zealand. As part of the ASI delegation, members from the American Lamb Board, California Wool Growers Association and Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers? Association joined the discussions.
Chairman William Thomas (R-CA) of the House Ways and Means Committee provided opening comments for this producer-to-producer meeting. He was pleased that the private sector of the lamb industry was meeting to mutually benefit the lamb business -- particularly the U.S. industry -- and he offered his continued support.
Throughout this day-long meeting, discussion centered on meaningful and professional cooperation between the countries in order to enhance the profitability and sustainability of the U.S. lamb market. Producers exchanged information on key marketing issues such as production costs and price information as well as industry seasonality.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the leaders reached consensus on the language of a Memorandum of Understanding. Delegates from each country will take this non-binding agreement back to their respective organizations for ratification.
?It is evident that there are common areas of interest between the three lamb-producing nations. There appears to be a real willingness to progress these issues for the good of all the countries,? stated Guy Flora, president of ASI. ?The meeting was a key opportunity to relay the message that the U.S. is one of the highest-valued lamb markets in the world -- despite declining consumption of lamb. We want to build on the strong value of lamb.?
The parties agreed to another meeting in 2004 to continue to build relationships and to work on advancing common issues between the lamb producers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. This next meeting will take place in Australia with this country serving as the secretariat.
Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33