|New Executive Board Members Elected to ASI
By JUDY MALONE & AMY TRINIDAD
American Sheep Industry Association
(March 1, 2013) A number of new American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Executive Board members were elected at the ASI/National Lamb Feeders Association Convention in San Antonio, Texas in January. They include Keith Stumbo of Honeoye, N.Y., Region I; Bob Leer of Paris, Ky., ASI’s Region II; Susan Shultz, De Graff, Ohio, Region III; Benny Cox, San Angelo, Texas, Region V; Gary Visintainer, Craig, Colo., Region VI; and Joe Pozzi, Valley Ford, Calif., Region VIII. Marsha Spykerman of Sibley, Iowa, was re-elected to represent Region IV and Larry Pilster of Alzada, Mont., continues to represent Region VII.
Stumbo runs approximately 175 sheep, which make up a purebred flock of Columbia, Dorset and Southdown breeds, on a small farm in western New York. He sells breeding stock, both ewes and rams, to 4-H members as well as rams to commercial flocks.
Stumbo grew up showing sheep. When his own children got old enough to enter the show ring, he got back into the sheep business. That was more than 30 years ago and now he has five of his seven grandchildren involved in the ring. Stumbo is also involved in showing sheep in the open class at a number of fairs both in and out of state.
“It is an exciting time to be a member of the sheep industry and the fact that there is some trying issues to contend with will be challenging,” says Stumbo. “I feel fortunate that I have existing relationships in many of the states that I will represent through selling sheep at a number of the state expos and shows.”
For the past 10 years, Stumbo has been the president of the Empire Sheep Producers. He has represented the state of New York as the voting director on the ASI board of directors for the last nine years. He has served on ASI’s Legislative Action Council and American Wool Council. Stumbo is on the board of directors for the Columbia Sheep Breeders Association and the American Oxford Sheep Association.
Stumbo is currently president of the Honeoye Central School Board in which he has been a board member for 17 years. He was also a charter member of the Honeoye Rotary Club during its inception and has remained a member for 45 years.
Stumbo is retired from his position as vice president of a light construction equipment company where he was in charge of international sales. He holds a degree in business management from Alfred State College. He and his wife, Kathy, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.
Leer grew up on a Kentucky farm producing tobacco and hogs. It wasn’t until 15 years ago that Leer and is wife of 30 years began the sheep operation when their kids, now 28 and 25 years old, wanted to show sheep. Today, Leer’s flock consists of 35-40 head of Hampshire sheep. The lambs that aren’t raised for the club lamb flock are sold privately to the ethnic trade or at the stock yards. Leer’s son, an accomplished showman, continues to help with the farm as Leer has been employed by Toyota in Georgetown, Ky., for the past 24 years.
Even though Leer’s children are grown, he still believes in the importance of working with today’s youth and getting them involved in livestock. “I hang my hat on the fact that I understand that youth are the future of farming for this country, and we need to do what we can to get them interested in farming.”
For the past decade, Leer has been an active member of the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Producers Association (KSWPA). He was president of the Kentucky Club Lamb Association. He has also held the position of vice president and is the current president of KSWPA. For the past three years, he has served as the Kentucky director on the ASI Board of Directors.
“I would like to see this industry grow, we have seen great interest in the sheep industry from farmers in this area and I would like to do what I can to help the industry expand in the Southeast,” explains Leer, who says he is looking forward to listening to the concerns of the producers in Region II and do what he can to help make life better for the shepherds.
“I am humbled to be given the opportunity to be our region’s representative to ASI,” says Shultz. “The sheep industry has a very bright future and I am happy to do my part to help provide leadership as we move the industry forward.”
Shultz and her husband, Bill, operate Bunker Hill Farm, a third-generation diversified family farm. After raising registered Rambouillet sheep for 25 years, they have transitioned to a production-oriented Suffolk flock. They are committed to genetic improvement through the use of objective measurements and the National Sheep Improvement Program. Performance criteria are centered on multiple weighings for growth and the use of ultrasounds for loin eye and fat determination. Their market has expanded from Midwest commercial flocks to include Western range operations.
The Shultzs are the 2004 award winners of the ASI Environmental Stewardship Award. Over the years, sheep have been their focus keeping them extremely involved with the various local and state sheep associations. The family has a long history of serving the industry. Susan’s father-in-law Farrell, husband Bill and she have all served as president of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. They have also stayed active at the national level through ASI and its’ predecessor ASPC in which Farrell served as its first secretary/treasurer. In fact, the Shultzs have even adjusted their lambing time so that they would be able to attend the ASI convention each year.
Shultz is retired from a 35-year career in education where she was a gifted education coordinator and teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree from Iowa State University.
Their son Joe, although no longer involved in the day-to-day operations, remains very engaged in the overall direction of the farming operation. Joe currently serves as the chief economist for the Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington, D.C.
Cox started his career in the livestock industry in the late 1960s with his employment at Producers Livestock Co., the largest sheep auction in the nation, while attending high school in San Angelo and then earning his bachelor’s degree in agriculture economics in 1975 at Angelo State University. Today, he remains employed at Producers as the sheep and goat sales manager. His personal involvement in sheep, whether it be in production, feeding or trading, has lasted more than 35 years. He now has both a sheep flock and a goat herd.
For many years, Cox managed the sale of anywhere between 600,000 and 800,000 head of sheep that moved through Producers; however, due to the recent drought, predation pressures, labor issues and income from hunting options, he has seen a reduction in sheep production in the area. As in the case of the 2011 drought that affected the Southwest, Cox facilitated, through both the doors of Producers and private treaty sales, the movement of breeding ewes to northern states where feed conditions were better.
Cox is a past president of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association and has been a member of ASI’s Lamb Council.
“I feel like I am well rounded within the industry due to my experience in both the commercial and feeding side of the industry, and knowledgeable about the issues the industry is facing,” says Cox, who is looking forward to using the experience he has gained on the state and national level to give back to the industry.
Visintainer is a third-generation rancher from western Colorado, who was born and raised in the sheep business. His grandfather emigrated from Austria in the early 1900s, building and developing the ranch throughout the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Visintainer has been a partner in the operation since the 1970s.
According to Visintainer, his philosophy toward serving on the executive board is perhaps best summarized by a quote from the comedian George Burns, “Good, better, best, never let it rest, get your good better, and your better best.”
The Visintainers run a range operation where their white-faced Columbia type ewes are on the move throughout the year. In the winter, the sheep graze in the desert on Bureau of Land Management allotments while the rest of the year is spent in the mountains on private land or state-land leases. The operation has run ewe numbers ranging from less than 1,000 to as many as 6,000 depending on economic and wildlife conditions. He is an advocate of the Let’s Grow campaign and is in the process of increasing his flock numbers.
Along with the sheep, the ranch grows alfalfa hay, wheat and runs a few cattle.
Visintainer has worked his way through the officer ranks with the Colorado Wool Growers Association and is currently serving as president. He is a long-time member of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Habitat Partnership Program working to develop partnerships with landowners to reduce wildlife conflict by finding local solutions to local problems.
Visintainer holds a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science from Colorado State University. He practices medicine in a large-animal clinic in Craig, Colo., when time permits.
Pozzi, of Valley Ford, is a fourth generation sheep and cattle producer, raising livestock all his life in Sonoma and Marin counties and a 1984 graduate of Chico State University. He owns Pozzi Ranch Lambs, which direct markets grass- and legume-fed lambs. In order to provide a year-round supply of lamb, Pozzi works with a group of family ranchers in Northern California and the Sacramento Valley who have all qualified for the Pozzi Ranch Lamb Program. In addition to direct marketing lamb to consumers, Pozzi Ranch Lamb can be found at Whole Foods Markets in Northern California.
In 1993, Pozzi created a market for his medium-grade wool for use in natural bedding products. It is used by manufacturers of natural bedding products for pillows, comforters, blankets and mattresses and is source verified.
Dedicated to land conservation and the economic viability of family farms, Pozzi has served on a number of industry boards and associations, including past president of the California Wool Growers Association, past president of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, a member of the ASI Wool Council and Predator Management Committee, past president of the North Bay Wool Growers Association, member of the National Farm Bureau Sheep Advisory Board and past director of the National Wildlife Advisory Board.
Asked about his decision to serve the industry on the ASI Executive Board, he responded, “I see this experience as a way to give back to an industry that has been good to me over the years.”