American Sheep Industry Association reflects on annual convention in New Orleans
New Orleans, La. – Nearly 500 sheep and wool producers across the country flocked to New Orleans, La. for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Convention, making the event one of the most widely attended conventions for the organization.
“This year’s event was a tremendous opportunity to learn, innovate and connect across the entire industry,” commented Chase Adams from ASI.
With legislative and policy actions taken, the productive convention allowed discussions on a variety of important topics affecting the industry.
Each of ASI’s councils and committees met with industry leaders who met with agency leaders to further the future of the sheep industry.
“The Resource Council met with representatives of USDA’s Wildlife Services to discuss efforts and ensure active predator control across the country, as producers grapple with increased predation,” explained Adams.
Further discussions targeted pathogen transmission between wildlife and domestic livestock.
“America’s sheep producers support healthy wildlife and healthy habitat,” he added. “Unfortunately, all too often, sheep producers are blamed for wildlife losses.”
USDA Animal Disease Research Unit research shows that those pathogens that cause wildlife mortality are present across a wide array of wildlife – not just domestic livestock. However, working with land management agencies and informing the public about the issue is vital to ensuring the sheep industry’s success.
“Grazing livestock are an integral part of healthy rangelands,” Adams said.
ASI’s Lamb Council also crafted policies related to alternative sources of protein, including lab-cultured proteins.
“Having closely monitored the development of these products and the evolving regulatory framework, members of ASI weighed in on supporting the administration’s approach of joint oversight between USDA and the Food and Drug Administration,” Adams said.
He continued, “The policy clearly states the association opposes any efforts to mislead consumers or disparage traditionally produced natural lamb in product promotion, advertising or labeling.”
With ASI at the forefront of the conversations, Adams noted America’s sheep industry strives to maintain a level playing field to ensure consumers can make informed decisions about the foods they eat.
Many First-time attendees led to busy meetings at the annual event, and Adams noted ASI’s Young Entrepreneur Committee flourished.
“Young and beginning sheep producers again built on momentum to network and take home new ideas to improve their operations and add profitability,” Adams explained. “The Young Entrepreneurs discussed working across generations, learned about advancements in wool production and marketing and discussed market dynamics with industry leaders in the lamb feeding and packing sectors.”
At the conclusion of convention, Young Entrepreneurs competed in an American Lamb Cook-off event, where teams crafted easy, every-night dishes featuring fresh ground American lamb.
Awards and honors
Among the important events at convention, ASI recognized several important supporters of the industry.
He continued, “In recognition of that achievement, ASI presented Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) with the industry’s highest award, the Joe Skein Award.”
“ASI’s legislative council reviewed the strong farm bill and made plans to ensure the implementation of the program to maximize the benefit to producers,” Adams explained. “Under the tenure of Chairman Conaway, the House drafted the strongest farm bill for the industry in three decades.”
Further, ASI recognized retiring President Mike Corn, who led the association through a period of record wool prices coupled with both regulatory and policy wins.
Saige Albert, Wyoming Livestock Roundup managing editor, wrote this article from ASI’s weekly SheepCast podcast. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.