Let's Grow Round Three GrantsJUDY MALONE
ASI Director of Industry Information
During the last 12 months, ASI’s Let’s Grow Committee has funded 36 grants infusing more than $671,000 into the American sheep industry nationwide. Ninety-eight grant-requests amounting to more than $2.9 million have been submitted to the committee for consideration.
Submissions were received from national organizations, state associations, breed groups, producer units and individuals located in more than 30 states spanning the country.
“It is evident to the committee that the sheep industry in the United States remains innovative,” said ASI Let’s Grow Committee Chair Susan Shultz. “Producers and producer groups alike have offered many ground breaking and inventive ideas for sustaining and improving the industry.”
The ASI Let’s Grow program was developed to ensure that the U.S. sheep industry remained sustainable for future producers of lamb and wool. A strategy to strengthen the industry’s infrastructure by making progress in sheep management and production is vital to achieve this long-term sustainability. Grants that best address the mission of the committee are given priority funding with the mission being “to support, promote and ensure the U.S. sheep industry’s future through the development of innovative and sustainable initiatives that increase the productivity, profitability and growth of the American sheep industry, which will further enhance domestic wool and lamb production.”
In addition to the goals of the mission, the committee set special Round 3 initiatives that included:
• The development of producer groups to increase cooperation between producers with similar production systems.
• Increase the adoption of out of season lambing to help distribute supply more evenly and thus help decrease the seasonality of lamb production.
• Development of business tools to assist sheep ranchers/producers.
The Let’s Grow Committee met in Denver in May to review the State Mentor Program applications as well as the Round 3 grant submissions. Twenty-two mentor grants were supported for $21,800. Of the 28 Let’s Grow grants submitted, 10 were approved for full or partial funding infusing nearly $185,000 into the industry.
“The committee takes the task of reviewing, recommending and funding projects with these industry dollars very seriously,” continues Shultz. “As with the previous two rounds of funding, there was considerable discussion about how each grant fulfilled the priorities of the program and what the long-term effect might be to the sheep industry.”
Desiring to offer the highest level of service to the industry, the committee expanded its scope by referring grants that did not fit the objectives of this program to other organizations that might more appropriately be able to fund the project. They also reviewed available industry resources and made recommendations to ASI to provide materials to grant submitters that might already be available to fulfill grant objectives.
“Where grants may not have fit well into the priorities of the ASI Let’s Grow program, the committee has done its best to recommend that these grants be submitted to other organizations, such as the American Lamb Board or the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center,” explains Shultz.
For example, it was recommended that New Producer Toolkits be made available to one grant-submitting group to help fulfill the outcomes of an unfunded grant. The committee felt that the majority of the objectives could be achieved utilizing these existing materials.
“The focus of this committee are the things that producers can control at the farm and ranch level,” comments Alan Culham, ASI Let’s Grow program coordinator. “Producers can impact the productivity and efficiencies of their own operation by producing more with the same or less inputs. In this way, the cost of production can be decreased allowing producers to have more control over the margin between that cost of production and the price received for lambs.”
Grants receiving funding in Round 3 of the program -- Click here for a list of the funded grants -- show a great amount of diversity and offer educational opportunities for producers across the country.
It is the expectation of the committee that they will offer Round 4 of the grant application process in the fall of 2016. The priorities to be addressed in this round of funding will be reviewed and refined prior to the application being made available.
Anyone wishing to follow the progress of the funded grants can find an executive summary and a progress report at GrowOurFlock.org by clicking on the Funded Projects tab. As work on the grants is accomplished, updates are made available.