Legislative Council Busy in 2015JUDY MALONE
ASI Director of Industry Information
ASI’s Legislative Action Council discussed 2015 accomplishments and 2016 priorities at the association’s annual convention.
“The large wins of the sheep industry in 2015 would not have been accomplished without huge efforts by ASI’s members,” said Jim Richards of Cornerstone Government Affairs, ASI’s lobbying arm in Washington, D.C. “The massive response received to the numerous calls to action shows the commitment and dedication producers and this committee have to the success of the industry.”
According to Bob Leer, Legislative Action Council chair, “2015 was a busy year as is evident by the number of issues that were addressed by the committee. We can be proud of the great strides forward that were made on matters like the H-2A sheepherder provisions and the bighorn interaction.”
Some of the higher visibility issues addressed by the Legislative Action Council in 2015 included:
• H-2A Sheepherder Special Provisions – Through mailings and a wide-spread call to action, the industry solicited more than 500 comments recommending changes and directing actions on the proposed rule. While the provisions in the final rule are being considered a ‘win’ for the sheep industry, there are still many conditions that need clarification as they are implemented.
• Retention of Country of Origin Labeling for Lamb – ASI policy has strongly supported the required identification of lamb for nearly 25 years, and lamb-promotion organizations have emphasized American lamb in national advertising since the 1960s.
• Reauthorization of Mandatory Price Reporting – ASI led legislation to reauthorize mandatory price reporting for lamb and accomplished the task prior to the 2015 deadline. The need for a review of the carcass value or carcass cutout report was emphasized.
• Section 32 Lamb Buys – Declining live, slaughter lamb prices and the strength of the U.S. dollar contributing to a higher volume of imported lamb accounted for the request to consider a Section 32 lamb-meat purchase.
• U.S. Sheep Experiment Station – There is a full-on push by environmental groups to shut down the Idaho station. The more than 100 years of sage grouse data along with bighorn sheep research have proven to be beneficial in retaining the station.
The Legislative Council approved a list of issues that will require close monitoring as they develop in 2016, including the veterinary feed directive, wildlife services and bighorn sheep. The industry will travel to Washington, D.C., on March 14-17, to talk with legislative decision makers about a variety of issues.