Avalos Urges ASI to Support Livestock Reporting
Edward Avalos, USDA Undersecretary for Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and a member of the New Mexico Woolgrowers Association, attended his sixth American Sheep Industry convention in a row, underscoring his commitment to agriculture and America’s sheep producers.
“My focus has always been the producers and rural communities,” Avalos assured attendees. “When I make decisions, I always have the producer in mind. We are committed to address your needs and meet your requests.”
Avalos updated the industry on several issues under his purview.
He said that funding for the USDA Market News, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, is likely to be renewed, but he urged ASI leadership to support mandatory livestock reporting.
“The reports have evolved over the years to meet the needs of stakeholders,” said Avalos. “Every day, thousands of decisions are made based on U.S. market reports. They improve competition in the marketplace and create transparency in the marketplace.”
On scrapie, he acknowledged that the industry is getting close to full eradication, adding that a final rule on scrapie should be coming this fall.
The ASI Board of Directors were reassured by Edward Avalos, under secretary for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs, that the long anticipated scrapie rule would indeed be finalized in 2015.
The proposed rule will be published for public comment with the purpose to amend the scrapie eradication components in the Code of Federal Regulations to, among several things, make identification requirements more uniform and bring certain categories of goat identification in line with sheep requirements.
Avalos assured producers that Wildlife Services will continue to support the livestock industry along with the urban beneficiaries who often don’t realize what Wildlife Services does for them. And it will continue to work with states on livestock depredation and to expand research on using livestock protection dogs.
“(The livestock protection dog) program has a tremendous future, and I will continue to support it,” he said.
Avalos also cited a commitment to expand agricultural trade around the world, looking for more market access in Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam. “And we haven’t forgotten Japan,” he added.
He noted that the Sheep Center dollars in the Farm Bill have been a tremendous boost for the sheep industry, and he encouraged quality proposals for Sheep Center funding that will continue to support the industry.
“Overall,” he told producers, “the sheep industry is doing pretty well.
“Prices are up and you should be proud of the work you’ve done. I believe that the sheep and goat industry will move forward in the future.”