Iowa Sheep Referendum Deadline Is March 15

Iowa Sheep Referendum Deadline Is March 15

Sheep producers have opportunity to vote on whether to increase sheep and wool checkoff to 25 cents per head.

In May 2012, a proposal to increase the Iowa Sheep & Wool Promotion Board assessment was signed by Gov. Terry Branstad. Producer voters can go to their local county ISU Extension office between February 25 and March 15 to vote. A producer voter is a person that's owned sheep for the 365 days prior to the vote.

IOWA SHEEP

The voter must provide proof of the county of residence and a sheep or wool sales receipt from the 12 months prior, and then sign and print their name to provide a list of those voting. Voting must be done during regular Extension office hours. An online ballot will be available; ISU Extension county offices will print the ballots as needed. Absentee ballots won't be provided. At the end of the voting period, the votes will be counted by the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The following explanation of the referendum and the checkoff is provided by the Iowa Sheep Industry Association.

Mickey Burch is executive director of the Iowa Sheep Industry Association. The ISIA address is 28425 340th St., Coon Rapids, IA 50058. Call 712-790-6303 or email [email protected] or visit the website for more information.

Sheep assessment vote slated for February-March at ISU Extension offices

How checkoff funds are used now: When the Iowa Sheep & Wool Promotion Board started, the assessment generated proceeds for education, promotion and research. Due to the reduced numbers of sheep marketed, only one research project has been funded in the last five years. Education and promotion are only minimally supported.

Examples of educational activities supported include the Ag Magic Show at the Iowa State Fair, the Iowa Sheep & Wool Festival, and salary and mileage for the Iowa Sheep Industry Association executive director. Educational activities receiving funding in the past, but that is currently being tabled, include publication of the children's Sheep Activity Book used for Ag in the Classroom and farm tours, and complimentary issues of ISIA's Lamb & Wool newsletter. Examples of educational activities receiving funding in the past, but aren't any longer, include support for the Iowa Foundation for Agricultural Advancement Scholarship Program. Several other educational activities have been denied funding due to a decrease in funds.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Examples of promotional activities supported include an Iowa sheep industry website, Iowa State Fair Farm Bureau Cook Off, salary and mileage for the ISIA executive director, and salary for the ISIA food stand managers. Some promotional activities that didn't receive funding in 2012 include the State Center BBQ Championship, the Elkhart Fire Department Annual Hog & Lamb Roast, the Iowa State University Winter Sheep Education Program, Jethro's BBQ "Sips in the City" -- a West Des Moines Winefest Event, and the Crossroads 4-H Club Pee-Wee Bottle Lamb Class.

Purpose of an increase in the checkoff is to be able to fund more requests for sheep and wool promotion

How will the checkoff funds be used with an assessment increase? The primary purpose of a checkoff increase is to fund more requests. The secondary purpose of a checkoff increase is to establish seed money for sheep research in the state of Iowa.

What is the need for this increase in funds? When the Iowa Sheep & Wool Promotion Board started, the assessment generated more than $100,000 in annual proceeds for education, promotion and research. Due to reduced numbers of sheep marketed, the current revenue is less than $50,000. A rate increase to just 25 cents would increase yearly income approximately $30,000 to $80,000 and come closer to the amount that was generated when the assessment began. This is a 15 cent raise; from the time the checkoff started, inflation has increased by some 46 cents.

The sheep industry in Iowa is one of the strongest in the nation. In terms of overall sheep inventory, including breeding sheep and market lambs, and in terms of number of sheep producers, Iowa ranks in the Top 10 in both categories. Iowa is also currently one of the top five states in the country in terms of output per ewe.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

The Iowa Sheep & Wool Promotion Board has improved its operational efficiency by conducting three of its four quarterly meetings via telephone conference call. Furthermore, they have changed their banking procedures to reduce monthly charges by more than $100 per month. Even with these changes, there is more need for funds for increased education and promotion of the sheep industry in Iowa. Additionally, the cost of a state audit and the checkoff have added to the current operating expenses of the ISWPB. Iowa producers are happy with the work the ISWPB carries out as indicated by the very small (less than 2%) request for refunds.

What is the mission of Iowa Sheep Industry Association? The mission of the ISIA is "To serve Iowa Sheep Industry Association members through an educational newsletter; as a central contact point for industry information; and to inform members of opportunities for improved profit and stewardship." ISIA uses resources from the ISWPB to improve the competiveness of Iowa producers. Partial funding of the annual Iowa Sheep & Wool Festival held in Adel is a prime example.

 ISIA feels that the strength of the Iowa sheep industry compels the increase in the assessment to further the growth and competiveness of sheep producers in Iowa.

Iowa sheep assessment ballot questions: Here's how the questions will be worded and what sheep producers will be voting on in this referendum:

1) I, a producer voter, authorize an initial increase in the per head assessment from the current 10 cents to 25 cents per head, but if the proposed increase to 25 cents per head fails, it stays at the current 10-cent-per-head amount.       Yes    No

 2) If the increase to 25 cents is approved, I, a producer voter, authorize the Iowa Sheep & Wool Promotion Board to be empowered to have the authority by resolution to subsequently further change the per head assessment by 5 cents once every three years and only after a producer comment period deems it necessary.    Yes    No

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