The letter below was written by Nick Forrest, Chairperson of the American Land Board:
Dear Industry Members,
Recently, a proposed amendment to increase the assessment rate for the Lamb Promotion, Research and Information Order was published in the June 12 Federal Register. I am writing to you to give you some background on this proposed amendment and to ask for you to share your feedback.
The proposed amendment would increase the assessment rate from $.005 to $.007 per pound for live sheep and lamb sold by producers, feeders and seedstock producers. For sheep and lamb purchased for slaughter by first handlers the rate would increase from 30 cents to 42 cents per head. This equates to about $700,000 additional funding to educate consumers, retailers and chefs on the benefits of American Lamb.
The American Lamb Board first decided to request this increase in assessments a year ago. It was a time of tight supplies and decreased imports. What a difference a year makes.
Today, the U.S. lamb industry is struggling with a very different market. Imports are coming back strong. Prices are coming down. Many in our industry are hurting. As a manager at Kroger, I see how the economic downturn has affected the way people eat as I watch shoppers economizing like never before.
So why increase assessments now?
The American Lamb Board has been in existence for 10 years and has not had any increase in assessments. In recent years, the American Lamb Board budget has dropped to about $1.8 million. While this seems like a large budget (especially to a small Midwest sheep producer like me), it is small when compared to the budgets of most other checkoff programs. And, more importantly, it is less than what Meat and Livestock Australia spends in the United States to promote Australian Lamb.
The American Lamb Board proposed this increase because we can’t keep doing more with less, especially when we are being outspent by our competitors.
We want to be able to continue the strong efforts we have made to differentiate and promote American Lamb. People are interested in local foods and we want to be able to tell the story of American Lamb. Here are just a few of the ways we have been investing your assessment dollars:
Spreading American Lamb messages through media relations. In FY2011, we reached more than 1 billion home cooks and chefs with messages about American Lamb in newspaper, magazine and electronic placements.
Building year round use through seasonal campaigns. American Lamb has moved beyond spring holidays with seasonal retail campaigns helping consumers to “get their grill on” in the summer and “become a lamb lover” in February. In 2011, Kroger and Walmart committed to domestic lamb programs.
Linking shepherds with chefs. Our target market campaigns in Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC have partnered local shepherds and chefs to spread the American Lamb message. More than 72 chefs participated in sold-out Lamb Jam events last year.
Expanding social media efforts. The American Lamb efforts have moved beyond traditional media to food bloggers, YouTube videos, Facebook messages, Twitter parties and more. American Lamb Board websites were revamped this year so make sure to check them out!
Educating chefs, retailers and home cooks about lamb cut diversity. We are teaching about cut diversity (beyond the rack), ease of use and benefits of American Lamb.
Sharing funds with suppliers and local partners. Matching funds programs led to more than 15 cooperative efforts last year – from retail supplier promotions to chef demonstrations at state fairs.
This assessment increase will not happen unless the majority of the industry agrees it is the right thing to do. The American Lamb Board does not want to move forward without industry backing. That’s why I ask you to take the time to review and submit comments to this proposed amendment which can be found at https://www.federalregister.gov.
This is an industry-funded and industry-managed program. We are here to help support the marketplace for the American sheep industry. Make sure to share your thoughts.
American Lamb Board
Source: American Land Board
Posted by Haylie Shipp