|Looking Forward to the Next Year
(March 1, 2012) Thank you to all who took the time to attend the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) convention in Scottsdale. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with the very passionate, dedicated people who surround our industry, discuss the past year’s events and set direction and policy for the coming year. From the looks of things, 2012 will be every bit as busy and exciting as 2011.
Last month I wrote about five pillars to keep in mind as we rebuild our industry. The programs that were offered during convention focused on several of these pillars:
Attracting the best talent: It was certainly energizing to have the Emerging Entrepreneurs program with the enthusiasm and fresh young faces it brought to our convention. We need to reach out, expand upon this program and keep this group engaged over the next year.
Ensuring the necessary infrastructure: Partnering with Charguers, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) was able to bring superwash to the United States, a great example of providing necessary infrastructure. We were pleased to have both Jack Ewing from Crescent Sock Co. and Robert Chesebro from Wigwam Mills share how superwash has enabled them to utilize more American wool. It was very evident that these companies were absolutely excited to use American wool and label as American!
A pilot project for instrument grading for lamb carcasses is another example of infrastructure being brought to the industry with packers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and ASI all working together.
Fostering a culture of government-funded research: The research symposium, “Utilization of Genomic Information,” challenged our industry to develop strategies for using genetic information to improve both animal traits and animal health. Our charge over the next year will be to work with our research institutions and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to formulate the strategies and acquire the resources to implement a program that will benefit our industry.
The ASI Board of Directors unanimously approved the merger of the American Sheep and Goat Center into ASI, leaving ASI as the surviving entity. This merger will provide savings in administrative costs and consolidate entities that were serving similar purposes. ASI will be busy over the next several months completing the merger.
In other actions, the board committed $50,000 for a bighorn sheep research project through the ARS/Animal Disease Research Unit in Pullman, Wash. This research will focus on development of a model for real-time risk assessment (time and distance) between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep under range conditions, correcting some of the short comings in the Forest Service’s model. Our legislation was successful in providing for a one-year prohibition on removing domestic sheep due to bighorn conflicts, but it is imperative that we move quickly, so we can demonstrate progress in resolving this issue. Thank you to the Utah Wool Growers Association and Nevada Wool Growers Association whose recent contributions of $5,000 apiece to the bighorn fund have pushed the total to more than $60,000.
The annual convention provides the opportunity to present several awards to outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to our industry. My heartfelt congratulations go to these very deserving individuals.
I also want to extend my appreciation to Mike Lippert and Lee Jarvis who served the past two years on the Executive Board. Both provided the board with great insight and perspective.
I am looking forward to serving as your president again this coming year. If you have any questions or comments I can always be reached at (208) 549-0922 or email@example.com.