|Convention and Vote Yes Campaign Important to Industry
(December 1, 2008) I would like to open my column this month by taking the time to wish all of you a happy holiday season. Make sure to take time to enjoy your family, friends and lifestyle in that you are fortunate enough to live as a U.S. sheep producer!
It is a great time to look back over the past year (and what a year it has been) and enjoy our successes, as well as look to our future in anticipation for what the next 12 months will hold.
The first thing our industry is looking forward to is the American Sheep Industry Association’s (ASI) annual convention in sunny San Diego, Calif. The convention theme this year is ASI ~ 20th Anniversary…Transition from Tradition, and I think most of us would agree that it is the perfect title for this event. Our industry is in constant flux, and we are lucky enough to be able to meet together and discuss how we can stay successful in this rapidly changing world.
It has never been more crucial for each and every one of you to seriously consider attending this year’s convention. ASI’s convention provides a forum for discussion about challenges in the industry, successes of our past and the direction of our future. Not only is it an educational event but it also serves as a fantastic social meeting, where we can catch up with fellow producers, share stories from the past year and strengthen our bond as a solid industry.
As in recent years, ASI is joined at the convention by the National Lamb Feeders Association, the American Lamb Board (ALB), the American Sheep and Goat Center, the Western Range Association, the National Livestock Producers Association, ASI Women, Make it With Wool and Food and Fiber Risk Managers, LLC.
The convention this year will play host to multiple workshops, meetings and events. This year, the convention is holding a brand new research symposium, which provides producers a chance to learn about the newest research in the sheep industry from those who have conducted it. The research will come from the disciplines of genetics, nutrition, physiology, pasture/range management, meat science, production and management, animal health/disease and wool.
When not in meetings or workshops, you will find that there is no end of things to do in San Diego. Get out and enjoy the California weather and agriculture with a full-day industry tour to the Imperial Valley, where nearly 175,000 lambs are grazing during winter months. A San Diego by Land and Sea tour as well as a USS Midway and Seaport Village Tour will also be available.
More information regarding the convention can be found on page eight and nine of this issue. For a registration form, visit www.sheepusa.org or call ASI at 303-771-3500. I encourage all of you to fill it out and join your industry in San Diego this January. The more we can meet, learn and apply new knowledge to our industry the more successful we will be in our transition into the future.
I also want to mention the upcoming lamb checkoff referendum to be held this winter as something each one of us association members should pay attention to.
The situation with this referendum vote appears to be similar to that of 2005. Although controversy appears to be lacking, we need to make sure supporters bother to vote. We do not want to fall into the trap of figuring the vote will pass so we don’t have to contact the county Farm Service Agency about voting. The last referendum was successful because industry leaders and association members took the time to vote and encouraged others to do the same. ALB has been very active and successful in the past years promoting American lamb to cooks, restaurants and culinary schools using the checkoff dollars. Without our checkoff dollars going into promotion of our national product, all we would see is a one-sided promotion of Australian and New Zealand lamb through their checkoff programs.
In the upcoming weeks, you will see material promoting the “Vote Yes” campaign for the referendum. Volunteer leaders in each state will be responding to questions and working at the state level to remind producers to vote yes for the referendum.
This group was successful with the passing of the referendum in 2005, and I just want to thank the volunteers and state associations who have already joined the campaign and began promoting for a successful passing of this year’s referendum.