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Collaboration is Key to Industry’s Future

Mike Corn, ASI President

As former chair of the Let’s Grow Committee – which is now in the more than capable hands of ASI Secretary/Treasurer Susan Shultz – I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to be in Utah in mid October.

After attending the Utah Ram Sale in Spanish Fork, I headed north to Coalville, Utah, to check in on two projects funded through the Let’s Grow Committee partnership with the National Sheep Improvement Program. The first was a meeting between NSIP and a handful of breed associations.

This is an important next step in developing NSIP and helping the program’s Estimated Breeding Values establish a niche within the industry. As we heard at the meeting, breed associations played a vital role in the development of similar tools within the cattle industry.

I also had some time to check out one aspect of the Leading Edge program, which is now in its second phase of EBV validation in Utah. Suffolk rams for the program had recently arrived in the state and were making a temporary home at Tom Boyer’s place near Coalville before being turned out with the ewes at Matt Mickel’s place a few weeks later.

As you’ll see in reading through this issue of the Sheep Industry News, ASI’s support of NSIP has been instrumental in allowing the program to rejuvenate itself under the leadership of Rusty Burgett in recent years. He expects to have some 400 flocks registered with the program by the time we arrive in San Antonio for the Annual Convention early next year.

A handful of Let’s Grow grants have gone either directly to NSIP or to projects such as the Leading Edge group that are utilizing NSIP data to push the sheep industry forward. These are exciting times, as we look for ways to increase productivity. As I told those on hand for the breed meeting, we’ve been looking for the “silver bullet” to solve all of our industry’s problems for as long as I can remember.

What I’ve come to realize is that the silver bullet isn’t going to be this project or that project. It’s going to be the collaboration that comes within the industry as we work to fund a variety of projects through ASI, NSIP, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, the American Lamb Board and others who have a vested interest in pushing the industry forward. There can be no Lone Rangers in this process if we are to be successful.

As your industry advocate since 1865, ASI is happy to take the lead in the process. The association did just that when it committed $1.5 million to Let’s Grow grants three years ago. But that funding would have been worthless without an industry dedicated to putting that money to work. Grant requests came in from all across the United States, and we will continue to see the fruits of our labor for years to come.

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