|Year in Review for the Industry
(January 1, 2006) Happy New Year!
As the new year begins, I thought it would be interesting to review the events of 2005 that were significant to the U.S. sheep industry. In addition, I would also like to applaud those producer leaders who have donated time away from their families and ranches or farms to help characterize 2005 as a year in which the industry was stable and profitable.
January – The year started out on a good note when the American Sheep Industry (ASI) received word that the U.S. Congress had approved the Miscellaneous Trade Bill, which included language calling for a two-year extension of the American Wool Trust. Established in 2000, the trust is now extended through 2008. There was great enthusiasm for the future of the U.S. sheep industry at the ASI/National Lamb Feeders Convention in Reno, Nev. Registrations topped those seen in recent years, with attendance surpassing 360. The U.S. sheep industry received news at the annual convention that the number of replacement lambs under one year of age had increased 10 percent over the last year; this marked the first increase in sheep numbers since 1990. New officers were elected for ASI, Glen Fisher (Texas) for secretary/treasurer, Burdell Johnson (N.D.) for vice president and myself for president. In addition, Brant Miller (Maine), Bill Sparrow, Jr. (N.C.), Jim Bristol (Mich.) and DA Harral (Texas) joined the executive board. We adopted a new method to report wool prices; instead of using grease prices, reports were changed to clean prices.
February – The voting for the Lamb Promotion, Research and Information Order, also known as the Lamb Checkoff, was conducted through Feb. 28, 2005. The Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Payment Program ended in January. Although producers were paid for the retention of ewe-lamb breeding stock over the next few months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is just now completing the last few payments.
March/April – USDA announced the passage of the Lamb Checkoff by 80 percent of the ballots cast and 84 percent of the sheep represented in the positive vote. ASI teamed up with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to offer a cost-share program to producers who are interested in genotyping their rams. In addition, $1,000 was made available for each member state to implement educational activities supporting the eradication of scrapie.
May – Nearly 60 ASI producer leaders convened in Washington, D.C., for the annual spring trip to visit the offices of their senators and representatives and discuss the industry’s top issues. During the trip, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns addressed the sheep industry leaders.
June – Jeff Siddoway and Guy Flora were appointed to the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center board of directors. ASI hosted a five-member Chinese mill wool-buyer delegation to familiarize them with U.S. wool and suppliers.
July – The Sheep and Goats Death Loss Report was released finding 37.3 percent of total losses from all causes were due to predators. Every five years, the predator-loss report focuses on sheep. ASI submitted comments pertaining to the National Animal Identification System in compliance with policy set forward by the board of directors. The first yards of the woven wool/Nomex® fabric were produced.
August – USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Services reported that the sheep and lamb inventory in the United States totals 7.8 million head, 2-percent above one year ago. ASI was awarded a Broad Agency Announcement contract from the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center for the development of a knitted, flame-retardant fabric. For the first time since May 2003, specific slaughter and feeder cattle, sheep and other animals from Canada could be imported into the United States.
September – Laurie Hubbard (Pa.) and David Trotter (Ind.) were appointed by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns to the American Lamb Board. The Industry Opportunities Taskforce, a committee designed to develop a long-range plan for the future viability of ASI, was named. Members include: Burdell Johnson (N.D.), Margaret Soulen Hinson (Idaho), Bill Kuecker (Tenn.) and Bonnie Kline (Colo.).
October – The Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999 expired again, it remains a voluntary program until an extension is approved by Congress. The U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center announced a 1,000-yard extension of ASI’s contract to develop dyes and dye techniques for woven wool/Nomex®. The inaugural meeting of the North American Sheep Coalition took place between members of ASI, the Mexico Sheep Producers Association and the Canadian Sheep Federation. The United States and China signed an agreement to limit imports of Chinese-origin textiles and apparel in all or part of 34 categories, which includes men’s wool trousers and men’s wool suits.
November – ASI successfully lobbied Congress to halt the publishing, dissemination and distribution of the report title, “Trends in the U.S. Sheep Industry,” which was produced by USDA’s Economic Research Service. For the first time for many, producers applying to the Wool Loan Deficiency Payment Program could now find it financially beneficial to participate in the graded program instead of the ungraded program. Sudhakar Hardas joined the wool consultant team for ASI to help develop and service the marketing in India for U.S. raw and semi-processed wool and wool products, as well as sheepskins.
December – A U.S. sheep delegation recently returned from a trip to New Zealand to participate in the third annual meeting of the Tri-Nations Lamb Group. As we find these meetings between producers from the United States, Australia and New Zealand to be beneficial to the industry, there was a consensus within the group to continue their work and seek support to renew another three-year Memorandum of Understanding.
The sheep industry’s future is based on your involvement. I encourage all producers to get involved with their state associations this year.