SECRETARY VENEMAN MAKES APPOINTMENTS TO THE NATIONAL SHEEP INDUSTRY IMPROVEMENT CENTER
Washington, DC, January 28, 2003 - Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced the appointment of Glen Fisher of Texas, Chase Hibbard of Montana and Paul Lewis of California to serve as members of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC) Board of Directors. The NSIIC is managed by this Board of Directors that is appointed by, and reports to the Secretary of Agriculture. The Board of Directors consists of 7 voting members chosen from the sheep and goat industries and the respective Under Secretaries for Rural Development and Research, Education and Economics who serve as non-voting members. Mr. Fisher will serve in a position reserved for active producers of sheep or goats in the United States and Mr. Hibbard and Mr. Lewis will serve in positions reserved for individuals with “expertise in finance and management.” Their term of service will begin at the annual meeting on February 10, 2003
The three Board members who are leaving the Board are Pierce Miller of Texas, Larry Becker of Wisconsin and Bill Bonde of California. Mr. Miller and Mr. Bonde have filled positions reserved for individuals with finance and management expertise and Mr. Becker has served as an active producer. All three members have served two terms and are not eligible for reappointment.
Other current directors: Linda S. Campbell, Luray VA - Vice Chair, Jeanne McCormack, Secretary-Treasurer
Rio Vista, California;William (Bill) Blake, Fenton, Michigan; Jeff Siddoway Terreton, Idaho. NON- VOTING MEMBERS: Thomas C. Dorr Under Secretary for Rural Development, USDA; Dr. Joseph J. Jen Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, USDA.
Glen Fisher is the manager of Askew Ranch and owner operator of Fisher Ranching in Sonora, Texas. He has been actively ranching for 25 years and manages 1,800 ewes and 400 mother cows. He has a BS in Agricultural Economics from Texas Tech. and a Masters in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State. He served as an Economist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service for 5 years and has 19 years experience managing wool and mohair marketing warehouses. He is the immediate past president of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Assn. and is currently the Chairman of the American Sheep Industry Association Wool Council
Chase Hibbard is an active sheep and cattle rancher with 1,200 ewes and 1,600 mother cows in Montana along with offering ranch management, appraisals and consulting services. He has a BA in Political Science from Amherst and an MBA from University of San Francisco. Mr. Hibbard has 30 years of financial experience beginning as a lending officer for Crocker Bank and extending to currently being a director for Wells Fargo Bank in Helena. He was a member of the Montana House of Representatives for 4 terms and has served as the President of numerous local, state and national organizations including past president of four national organizations, and past president/chairman of six state organizations. He has also on the governing boards of numerous other public and industry related organizations.
Paul Lewis is actively involved in the production of over 1,000 ewes in California’s Central Valley. He and his wife have been active partners in the family ranching and farming operation for 35 years. He has a BS in Mathematics from Cal. Poly State Univ., San Luis Obispo and extensive financial training as part of 38 years with State Farm where he is currently the Field Executive for 10 Northern California Counties. He is the First Vice President of the California Wool Growers Association, President of the local sheep association and past president of the California Farm Bureau Sheep Committee and the California Suffolk Sheep Breeders Assn.
The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC), or Sheep Center, was authorized in the 1996 Farm Bill to provide financial assistance through a variety of funding mechanisms for the enhancement and marketing of sheep or goat products in the United States with an emphasis on infrastructure development. The NSIIC is a unique pilot program that currently has three major program areas that are up and going. The biggest effort is a low interest loan program with $14 million in low interest loans to a diversity of projects targeting infrastructure development. This program is administered through an intermediary relending arrangement with the National Livestock Producers Association. Over 20 projects are currently funded with more in the works as the lending cycle is ongoing, the interest rate is currently fixed at 5%. The second program was initiated by the Secretary of Agriculture to stimulate the lamb meat market and resulted in using $5 million of NSIIC funds for 23 lamb industry programs. The final NSIIC a competitive grant program that is intended to fund a variety of small diverse projects that will benefit the U.S. sheep or goat industries. The competitive grant program is in its second year and has funded 17 projects.