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Annual Convention Serves as Sheep Industry's Family ReunionMike Corn, ASI President
Standing at the podium during the full board meeting at the ASI Annual Convention in San Antonio last month, I had to take a moment to appreciate the fact that I was surrounded by friends. Old friends, new friends and future friends were there to support the sheep industry that we’ve all come to know and love.
It’s humbling to think about the more than 500 people who came together to handle the business of our association. From sheep producers to wool companies to university researchers and government leaders, we were all working to push our industry in the right direction. I’ve often said that I dream of the day when sheep will once again rule the range. The work we do at the annual convention each year is an integral part of making that dream a reality.
One of the most rewarding duties as ASI President is the opportunity to recognize the very best in our industry at our annual awards lunch. I created a new award this year – the Industry Innovation Award – and it was an honor to present it for the very first time to Frank Moore and Brad Boner with Mountain States Rosen. We need more innovation to keep this industry moving forward, so I hope that we’ll have good reason to continue presenting this honor for many years to come.
We also had the opportunity to recognize longtime sheep producers Steve Raftopoulos and Chico Denis for their many contributions to our industry. Steve once held the position I’m so honored to currently serve in as president of ASI, and its only now that I’m here that I can truly understand the commitment he made in serving our association.
Dr. David Thomas earned our Camptender Award with his many years of dedicated sheep research and teaching. The young people who got their start in our industry because of him will be his true legacy more so than the plaque I presented to him. You can read more about the accomplishments of all of our award winners later in this issue.
Coverage of the convention begins on page 21, and I would encourage you to take a close look at all that we learned during our time in San Antonio. We were fortunate to have U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach join us to start discussions on many of the issues we will address with his department and others during the ASI Washington, D.C., trip this month.
He was a farmer and rancher in Nebraska before he was a government official, so I believe he truly understands our needs and concerns as we try to make a living producing American lamb and growing American wool.
With the 2018 Farm Bill on the horizon and immigration reform a hot topic on Capitol Hill right now, our industry needs to present a strong, united voice and leave no doubt about our needs in the minds of those charged with guiding our government.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Allan Piggott and his wife, Sue, for taking time to visit my ranch in Roswell, N.M., before they headed home to Australia. As president of the Sheep Producers of Australia, Allan was in the states to attend our annual convention. Reith Parker of Sheep Producers Australia and Jamie Heinrich, an Australian producer, joined Allan and Sue on their visit to my ranch. It was great to hear their perspectives, but I took every opportunity to remind them of the negative impact imported lamb has on the American sheep industry.