|Michigan Sheep Breeders Association, Ben Tirrell, Executive Secretary
Brief description of the Michigan Sheep Breeders Association.
The Michigan Sheep Breeders Association (MSBA) is composed of roughly 400 members, representing a tremendous diversity of sheep interests. These include commercial lamb production, lamb feeding, club lamb sales, purebred breeding stock, specialty woolen products and numerous other market niches. The members are very proud of the success and diversity of the state's sheep industry and, consequently, the steady growth of Michigan's sheep numbers in recent years.
Why is MSBA an ASI Guard Dog Member?
“Like nearly everyone in agriculture, we foresee an increasingly hostile environment for production agriculture in the future. Unfortunately, our state and nation are filled with confrontational agendas, everything from environmental extremism to animal rights. These groups are well-funded and vocal and, given the chance, will mold public opinion around their causes, regardless of their often dubious claims. There is a clear need for a strong and unified voice in the Untied States for sheep producers, a voice we feel we are helping to support through ASI's Guard Dog Program.”
How does the MSBA think the industry has benefited from the Guard Dog funds?
“It is clear that this program is working. This last year has brought numerous issues on which ASI has been a powerful advocate for the sheep industry. In addition, one of the most positive aspects of this type of fund is that it allows producers and organizations across the country to support each other at specific moments that will likely be critical to the future of our national industry as a whole. While every issue may not be imminently important for producers in Michigan, our members see the importance of defending the sheep industry in every corner of the nation, lest some harmful precedent be set that jeopardizes our farms as well. The kind of proactive collaboration this program embodies will be vital in moving forward in the sheep industry and the entire agricultural sector.”
What does MSBA think are the industry’s biggest needs for the future?
“The MSBA, as a whole, is very positive about the future of the sheep industry. However, we do see a great need for promotion of our industry and products. Industry promotion, meaning the attraction of new producers to our industry, allows us to maintain our voice and infrastructures. Product promotion simply entailing marketing the great commodities we in the sheep industry provide, but items to which the general public is woefully unaware. ASI, the American Lamb Board, the American Wool Council, and so forth, are doing a great job, but we are really just getting started in terms of tapping the incredible potential of our own domestic markets. This is a great problem to have, one we are excited to take on here in Michigan and throughout this country with all of you!”
Established in 2001, the Guard Dog Program utilizes the recommendations and donations of dedicated industry individuals to address a variety of issues. We hope you enjoy learning about these individuals, their businesses and their foresight for the U.S. sheep industry. If you would like to become a member of the Guard Dog Program, contact the American Sheep Industry Association.