DENVER – The American Sheep Industry Association’s 2019 Annual Convention marched into New Orleans Jan. 23-26 and marched out with new officers and a revamped executive board to lead the industry through the challenges of the new year.
Benny Cox of San Angelo, Texas, was elected president to succeed Mike Corn of New Mexico. Cox started his career in the livestock industry in the late 1960s with his employment at Producers Livestock Company 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. Cox is a past president of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association and has been a member of ASI’s Lamb Council.

He is joined on the officer team by Susan Shultz of DeGraff, Ohio, who was elected vice president after serving as secretary/treasurer the past two years. With her husband, Bill, and son, Joe, Shultz operates Bunker Hill Farm, a fourth-generation diversified family farm. They breed black-faced (Suffolk) terminal sires primarily for the western range commercial industry and are committed to genetic improvement through the use of objective measurements and the National Sheep Improvement Program. She was co-chair of ASI’s Production, Education and Research Council, chair of the Roadmap Productivity Improvement Committee and chair of ASI’s Let’s Grow Committee. Shultz is retired from a 35-year career in education, where she was an education coordinator and teacher for gifted students.
Brad Boner of Glenrock, Wyo., was elected secretary/treasurer after serving the past year as the region seven representative on the ASI Executive Board. In addition to working with Mountain States Rosen and the company’s lamb cooperative, Boner is a sixth-generation rancher. The family runs a diversified operation that includes Rambouillet and Targhee sheep, as well as cattle.
There were four changes to the ASI Executive Board. Steve Clements of South Dakota was elected to represent region four as Jeff Ebert was not eligible for reelection due to term limits. Randy Tunby of Montana was elected in region seven. Region eight elected Sarah Smith of Washington. And finally, Bob Harlan of Wyoming stepped into the National Lamb Feeders Association position on the board. Returning ASI Executive Board members include: Don Kniffen of New Jersey in region one, Jimmy Parker of Alabama in region two, John Dvorak of Minnesota in region three, Bob Buchholz of Texas in region five and Steve Osguthorpe of Utah in region six.
The ASI Lamb Council crafted grassroots policy on the industry’s response to current and emerging alternative sources of protein, including laboratory-cultured proteins. Having closely monitored the development of these products and the evolving regulatory framework, members of ASI weighed in supporting the administration’s approach of joint oversight between the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration.
The policy clearly states that the association opposes any efforts to mislead consumers or disparage traditionally produced natural lamb in product promotion, advertising or labeling. ASI will remain at the forefront of this conversation as the development, regulation and marketing of these products moves forward. America’s sheep producers are proud of the healthy lamb they raise and only aim for a level playing field to ensure consumers have the information needed to make decisions that are in their family’s best interest.
After a record-breaking year of soaring wool prices, producers were treated to more good news on that side of the industry as representatives from the United States Army were on hand to discuss the return of the service’s Pink and Greens uniform. A throwback to the Army Dress Uniform of the World War II era, the new uniforms will feature American wool in everything from the jacket and pants to the shirt and socks.
“It’s not a new uniform, but it’s our best uniform,” said Clay Williamson, a program manager for soldier clothing. He was tasked with providing Brooks Brothers’ quality dress uniforms because the Army felt that every soldier “deserved it.” The uniforms were previewed late in 2018 and will begin to appear in regular use this year.
ASI was pleased to present former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway with the industry’s highest honor – the Joe Skeen Award. In his tenure as Chairman, Conaway drafted the most favorable House version of the Farm Bill for the sheep industry in over three decades. Chairman Conaway fought hard for the inclusion of the industry’s priorities, not just in the House bill, but all the way through the conference with the Senate to the bill signed by the President.
“I’m honored and flattered by this award,” Conaway said, adding that it was a privilege to join Skeen and Kika de la Garza on the short list of previous winners. “There were lots of folks on my team who worked hard to make the Farm Bill happen, and I share this award with them.”
But Conaway wasn’t the only award winner at the 2019 ASI Annual Convention. North Dakota’s Burdell Johnson earned the McClure Silver Ram Award for a lifetime of service to the sheep industry. He has been a regular attendee at the convention for the past two decades and volunteers his time to serve as auctioneer for both the Rams PAC auction and the ASI Women’s auction. He was also instrumental in creating the Young Entrepreneur group that included more than 70 attendees at this year’s annual convention. He continues to mentor the group to this day.
Montana dominated the Friday awards luncheon, picking up honors in three of the five categories awarded by ASI. Producer John Helle became just the second winner of the Industry Innovation Award for his efforts in leading the family operation to begin manufacturing its own wool clothing line: Duckworth.
He was joined onstage by John and Nina Baucus, who were selected for the Distinguished Producer Award. The husband and wife team have both held leadership positions at the state and national levels through the years while continuing to work on their historic ranch near Helena, Mont.
Ag broadcaster Russell Nemetz, also of Montana, was named the Shepherd’s Voice Award winner for his efforts to promote the sheep industry through the media.
While he wasn’t on hand for the convention, former ASI staffer Paul Rodgers of West Virginia joined the full board of directors meeting via Skype. In addition to recognizing Rodger’s 2018 retirement, ASI officers honored him with the association’s Camptender Award for his efforts on everything from animal health to LRP-Lamb insurance to mandatory price reporting in three-plus decades of service with the association.
The 71st annual Make It With Wool National Finals and Fashion Show closed out the ASI Annual Convention in New Orleans. Celebrating a Mardi Gras theme, MIWW crowned a handful of winners.
Renata Goossen of Kansas claimed the Senior MIWW Ambassador title with her four-piece wool outfit, including a coat, blouse, skirt and gloves. Inspired by the classic, yet modern look of Kate Spade fashion, her coat was made from a garnet plush wool fabric and lined with silk charmeuse for both comfort and beauty. The coat featured a hand-tailored wide lapel and welt pockets. Her skirt was fashioned from wool flannel and features faux ruffle pockets and an invisible zipper. Her bow tie blouse was made from a butter-colored tropical wool. Finishing off her ensemble, Renata constructed a pair of gloves from double knit wool.
Kevina Clear of Michigan was the Junior Ambassador with her eye-catching winter coat and dress ensemble. Her cashmere coat featured a contrasting skirt and cuffs, hand topstitching and most notably, wool needle-felting down the front and on the pockets. The fully lined coat had a convertible collar that could be worn folded down or standing up. To complete the ensemble, she chose a striking plaid to create a dropped-waist dress with princess­style shaping.
In other categories, Charlene Colon of North Carolina was the adult winner, while Hannah Drum of Texas took home the Fashion/Apparel Design title. Other winners included: Mia Suhrbier, Washington, Creative Machine Embroidery; Emily Watson, Ohio, Exemplary Construction; Katie Richards, Oklahoma, Handwork; Rebecca Yates, Texas, Outstanding Needlework; Kimberly Westenberg, Wisconsin, Outstanding Use of Mohair; and Josie Braun, North Dakota, People’s Choice.
The 2020 ASI Annual Convention is scheduled for Jan. 22-25 at the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Plaza Resort.
ASI is an equal opportunity employer. It is the national trade organization supported by 45 state sheep associations, benefiting the interests of more than 88,000 sheep producers.

By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.

%d bloggers like this: