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ASI approves budgets; looks to strengthen national flock

The American Sheep Industry Association Board of Directors in August unanimously approved the association's fiscal year 2009-2010 Wool Trust budget as well as the legislative/membership budget via mail-in ballots. The budget proposals had been recommended to the directors by ASI's American Wool Council and executive board during their July meetings.

The $2.25 million Wool Trust budget provides programs and services that will improve the viability of the sheep industry and address the American Wool Trust objectives. Through the product development and market promotion programs, ASI will continue to explore market opportunities for wool and maintain a strong emphasis on developing U.S.-made wool products for military uses, such as fire-retardant, moisture-managing, machine-washable and antimicrobial wool fabrics. ASI will also continue to focus on supporting production of the superwash process for wool.

Direct-marketing activities with international wool buyers will continue to be funded by ASI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service in the upcoming fiscal year. Activities which have been a major force in creating international markets for the United States over the last 10 years will continue. Those activities include trade teams, communications, processing trials and in-country representatives, who continually service the trade. The quality improvement program will continue to focus on providing the most valuable U.S. wool products to new and returning international customers, as well as domestic buyers. This includes implementation of programs emphasizing the production of quality wools through genetic improvement.

Market information and analysis for the sheep industry, quality-assurance, animal-health and trade services are crucial components of the budget.

The ASI producer communications program will continue. Funds have been allocated for printed materials, press releases, radio spot requests and for the 2010 annual convention, which will be held in Nashville, Tenn.

Board members also approved the development of a project team and allocated funding to implement the proposal to continue to build the U.S. sheep inventory. The proposal is to conduct an effort to identify the needs of the industry to increase sheep production, prioritize those needs and implement them for a stronger industry.

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