|Message from the President and Executive Director
(November 1, 2010) The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has advanced into the digital age with a presence on Facebook, Twitter…although your president has not...and with a recent debut of our livelihood on RFD-TV. This cable television channel, devoted to agriculture and rural America, is widely recognized by subscribers, and we decided it was a great way to promote the sheep business. The ASI executive board-recommended wool budget this past year included funds for the programming.
ASI put the wheels in motion this summer with a script, selection of individuals to interview on film to show the successful diversity of sheep production from coast to coast along with drafting panelists to appear on the live television broadcast.
Following last year’s budget approval, we also established the committee on increasing the U.S. sheep inventory and they sought channels to promote the sheep industry as a solid business opportunity in order to get more sheep production under way. The RFD-TV LIVE show was a great fit for this committee, which was pleased to have an active project ready to go, and is outlining a plan this year for more lamb and wool production.
We recently found out the Nielsen numbers from the show and they are extremely positive. Most LIVE shows range from 20,000 viewers to 70,000 viewers depending on the subject at hand, the ASI LIVE show was viewed by 93,000 households and 118,000 adults age 18 and older. It is great to have so many people interested in our industry! And hopefully, in the future, we will also hear of producers that caught their initial interest in sheep from the program and growers that expanded with the positive message of the highest prices paid to the farm and ranch gate in 2010.
Narrowing down the sheep industry story to one hour was tough as there are many great stories and producers to feature. We found a great video crew and Amy Trinidad our editor was instrumental in conducting the videos and working with the management at the television station. Producers that were contacted either agreed to participate or recommended other producers with a success story to highlight, and we greatly appreciate each farm and ranch for the hospitality and faith in our presentation of their story on national television.
The producers did encounter a technical issue in the second half of the show and were unable to show the two final videos which represented full-time sheep operations in the West and the lamb-feeding side of the business. We are talking to the company and if successful in lining up another show, will use those interviews at that time, plus we will be posting them to www.sheepusa.org.
People were enjoying the interviews and commented they shared our disappointment we didn’t get to all five videos. It would have provided the full balance of sheep production in America that we hoped to share with the audience. The aired videos can be seen at www.sheepusa.org.
The program ought to be encouragement for today’s sheep producers to strengthen their production and hopefully expand. For agriculture producers that are not in sheep yet, hopefully they are now interested in pursuing sheep as part of their operation whether in combination with cattle grazing or adding more diversity to their crop and livestock enterprise.
The record-setting markets for lambs, wool, slaughter ewes and pelts ought to instill confidence that sheep are a good business opportunity. Sheep markets weathered the recession better than any other livestock or poultry sector. The non-traditional market in the United States continues to grow and reach further into more areas of sheep production to fill the demand for lamb.
We would like to give a special thanks to the Cline family, Mike Harper, the Theos family, Rominger Brothers Farms, the Spykerman family, Bill Kuecker and Margaret Soulen Hinson for helping with this television production.
We also thank the state sheep association leaders for support of existing and new sheep producers with local production and marketing advice. As noted during the television broadcast, we refer interested parties to the state associations for guidance on breeds, sales, grazing and marketing-type requests as the state leaders know the best sources of information such as universities, extension and knowledgeable producers to fit the bill. The youth programs in the state are also an avenue for new producers.
On a separate note to address appropriations, Congress recessed without passing appropriations for most parts of the government, including those for agriculture, which means that the U.S. Department of Agriculture programs supportive of sheep will operate under the same budget as in fiscal year 2010. Depending on the appropriations committee language, some earmarks did not get accomplished which means there may be some programs that don’t receive federal funds. And Congress may not do anything between the elections and January when the new members of Congress are sworn into office.
The November issue of the ASI Sheep Industry News is distributed to all addresses that we can gather of sheep farms and ranches as an extra outreach to sheep producers in this country. We hope you find the information helpful and interesting and encourage readers to consider subscribing. ASI is a volunteer organization of sheep producers and serves as the national trade association to protect and strengthen the sheep industry.
With associations in 45 states representing all sizes of farms and ranches as well as all types of specialties in lamb production, wool production or dairy, all can find benefit in sharing the sheep industry with fellow producers.
In closing, what better place to continue this year’s message of progress than at our annual convention. We encourage you to register and attend the event in Reno in January 19-22, 2011.
We wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving.