July 2008 -- In the beginning of July, Senators and Representatives introduced legislation to help address sheep industry concerns regarding imports of live sheep and lamb/mutton meat from areas of Argentina. The proposal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2007 to allow imports from areas of Argentina drew comments of opposition from the sheep industry. These comments and questions continued at meetings in May when ASI and state leaders met with the Department in Washington, D.C.
Please contact your congressional delegation and ask them to co-sponsor the legislation to prohibit the importation of live sheep and lamb/mutton meat from Argentina. Attached is a fact sheet and the Senate and House bill language for your use. Copies of the House and Senate press releases on the legislation are attached below for your background. Your Representatives should contact either Rep. Barbara Cubin (Republican) or Herseth Sandlin (Democrat) to sponsor the House legislation and your Senators should contact Sen. Michael Enzi (Republican) or Tim Johnson (Democrat) to sponsor the Senate bill. The Senate version has been assigned number S. 3238.
Co-sponsoring Sen. Johnson on the Senate Bill include: Sens. Wayne Allard [R, Colo.], John Barrasso [R, Wyo.], Kent Conrad [D, N.D.], Pete Domenici [R, N.M.], Byron Dorgan [D, N.D.], Richard Durbin [D, Ill.], Michael Enzi [R, Wyo.], Claire McCaskill [D, Mo.], Ben Nelson [D, Neb.], Ken Salazar [D, Colo.], Jon Tester [D, Mont.] and John Thune [R, S.D.].
Co-sponsoring Rep. Cubin on the House Bill include: Reps. Nancy Boyda [Kan.-2], Steve Kagen [Wisc.-8], Cathy McMorris Rodgers [Wash.-5], Earl Pomeroy [N.D.] and Dennis Rehberg [Mont.].
In a related note, on July 18 the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved an amendment for 2009 spending stating that no funds would be available to implement the proposed trade with Argentina. Appropriations bills will be not be finalized into law until this fall at the earliest so we need to support the individual bills as well as the appropriations language. The easiest way to do this is to ask your members to sponsor the Foot and Mouth Disease Prevention Act of 2008.
Additionally, state veterinarians, such as in South Dakota, have been instrumental in the effort so contacting your state vet is another positive option. As you will recall from the comments submitted by ASI to USDA over a year ago on the Argentina proposal, the department totally failed in its analysis of the U.S. sheep industry. This eroded any confidence the industry has in the analysis done by USDA on the Argentina sheep industry.
The ASI comments to the Federal Register proposal in 2007 can be found at www.sheepusa.org under ASI positions. All comments submitted opposed the proposal with the exception of those offered by Argentina and the meat importers. Serious reservations have been expressed by cattle and sheep producers to the proposal; therefore, support by Congress began in July.
Several state sheep association leaders with Senators on the Appropriations Committee worked with ASI in July and that support was greatly appreciated.
Peter Orwick, Executive Director
American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)
(303) 771-3500, ext. 33 firstname.lastname@example.org