|The Future of Sheep Industry is Bright
(March 1, 2007) “Building Upon a Legacy … Looking to the Future.” That is truly the goal of the American sheep industry. And nowhere was that more apparent than at the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)/National Lamb Feeders Annual Convention this year in San Antonio, Texas.
Nearly 400 sheep producers and industry leaders gathered to share their vast experience in the industry and use that knowledge to move forward into the coming years.
With seven different organizations present, I feel the convention was truly an example of the unity in our industry. It is exciting to see everyone working together to promote our industry and our products.
Thanks in part to some major advances we have made recently, the industry can look to the next few years with confidence.
Livestock Risk Protection-Lamb (LRP-Lamb) insurance has been a focus of ASI for several years, and this year’s convention saw further progress being made toward it becoming a reality, as we have made some big strides in the livestock insurance arena.
Not many years ago, federal law prohibited livestock participation in such insurance programs. So, up until recently, crop insurance agencies, as the name implies, only dealt with crops. Therefore, these agencies are not nearly as familiar with the livestock industry as they are with the crop industries.
Anticipating that agencies interested in providing LRP-Lamb in the 27 pilot states will naturally reach out to state and national sheep associations to learn more about the industry to effectively market the product, ASI leaders believed it was worth the effort to also market LRP-Lamb directly to producers.
This is a major benefit because while some sheep operations produce crops and livestock, a number of ranches have not been involved in crop insurance in the past and are not familiar with their insurance options.
ASI officers viewed this as an opportunity to help deliver LRP-Lamb, as well as other insurance products, and to make the pilot a success so the product can receive approval nationwide.
At the convention, the ASI Board of Directors approved the formation of the Sheep Venture Co., which, in turn, can form an agency to provide the insurance marketing and sales of LRP-Lamb and other U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-supported insurance products to sheep producers and other livestock industries.
If this agency is successful, it may yield some funding to help with industry benefits and services in the future.
Additionally, the American Sheep and Goat Center, which has partnered with ASI to help build and deliver LRP-Lamb, has purchased an insurance company and looks quite favorably on working with the Sheep Venture Co., the insurance marketing agency that ASI has formed.
I appreciate the ASI board approving this opportunity, as it offers potential for financial success and industry unity for the future. In the upcoming months, we will continue to put together the LRP-Lamb insurance program, as well as work on the Farm Bill and disaster programs to benefit our industry.
I feel that the future of our industry is looking bright. At the convention, J. Burton Eller, Jr., deputy under secretary for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs indicated that 2007 is gearing up to be a good year for the sheep industry, and I agree. This is a united industry, and together, I believe we can only make it better.