|A Unified Industry Means a Successful Future
(March 1, 2008) Well, we have seen another American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)/National Lamb Feeders Association convention come and go with great success. This year’s convention went off without a hitch and was fast-paced and jam-packed with information. I often heard attendees say how timely and appropriate they felt the workshops were, and I was especially encouraged by the cooperation I saw amongst our attendees at the convention. I saw a free-flowing exchange of ideas and a willingness to meet each other and share experiences, whether they were a feeder, producer or government official. I couldn’t walk down the hall without striking up several conversations with people I passed, which is just another nod to the quality of folks we have in our industry.
In addition, I found it of great interest that one of our sponsors, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, was not only a significant contributor to our convention but it also owns its very own sheep ranch. The authority purchased the ranch for the water rights and has continued with the ranch’s mission to run sheep. It is not often that the host city of our annual meeting is also in the sheep business and expresses a solid interest in our industry.
“Partners in Progress” was this year’s convention theme, and I saw great examples, time and time again, of how this is so true in our industry. By having seven different segments of our industry participate in the convention and contribute to the overall success of the event is truly great. I honestly think that we are one of the only livestock industries in the United States that can say that every segment works together for a common goal, the success of our future. As I will be traveling this year to represent our lamb and wool producers, I will have a chance to meet with many top government officials, and this message of unity amongst our industry is the first thing that I will proudly emphasize.
I was also highly encouraged by what I consider is another valuable partner in our industry’s progress, our youth. During our convention, I was approached by some very hard working young women who requested that they be able to share their efforts in promoting the sheep industry in their state. These young ladies, all from Minnesota (one representing her state at the Board of Directors meeting), spoke at the board meeting and truly impressed everyone there. They pointed to the need to encourage the youth of our industry to get involved, as they are the future producer leaders. I could not agree more with their message and have suggested that ASI examine ways to get our youth more involved, as our progress depends on it.
This year, our RAMS PAC auction saw a record-breaking amount of funds raised. It was great to see our industry leaders come together to donate and bid on some fantastic items. This year, we saw a few larger sponsors donate items, New Holland and Henry Repeating Arms Co. A special kudos needs to go to Clark Willis, Utah, who worked hard to bring the New Holland sponsorship to our convention. I encourage all of our members to take a look at the company contacts they may have and contact Peter Orwick, ASI executive director, to find out how ASI can help you bring them in as sponsors. It benefits all of us to have these companies recognize the sheep industry and help us out anyway they can.
With these types of results from our convention and some recently released reports, I am confident that our industry is progressing strongly. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Services’ (NASS) just-released Farms, Land in Farms and Livestock Operations Report, the number of operations with sheep totaled 70,590 during 2007, up 2 percent from 2006 and up 3 percent from 2005. This report, as well as the newest NASS Sheep and Goat Report (a bi-annual report) came out on Feb. 1, and can be downloaded from the ASI Web site, www.sheepusa.org. The NASS Sheep and Goat Report is especially informative as it provides some great information about the status of our industry, including information on inventory numbers, breeding numbers and the value of our wool clip. I encourage all of you to check these reports out and become up-to-date with our industry.