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Wyoming Wool Growers Completes Successful Joint Convention with Idaho

Written by Bryce Reese

By Bryce Reece, WWGA Executive Vice President

The Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) completed its 108 annual convention on Nov. 13. by again meeting jointly with its sister organization in Idaho, the Idaho Wool Growers Association (IWGA).

The meeting, held at the spectacular Sun Valley Inn and Resort, saw over 50 Wyoming attendees make the short 600-plus mile jaunt to Sun Valley, where they were treated to both phenomenal warm fall weather, and then to waking up one morning with a beautiful dusting of fresh snow (the snow delivered in Idaho was somewhat new and different to many of the Wyoming attendees, in that they were unaccustomed to seeing snow fall straight downward).
Prior to the start of the convention on Nov. 11, the Wyoming delegation held a small reception, to which the IWGA Board was invited. This provided an ideal setting for the leadership of the two associations to become better acquainted and discuss issues critical to both memberships in a more relaxed atmosphere. The convention began in earnest the next morning with both associations holding their annual business meetings.

During the WWGA business meeting, new officers were elected. Peter John Camino of Buffalo was elected President, and, in breaking with tradition somewhat, Dave Julian of Kemmerer was selected to serve as President-elect. When Julian assumes the presidency following Camino’s term, it will be for his second presidential term.

Three Vice President “At-Large” seats were up for election, and the membership re-elected all three current seat holders for an additional two-year term. Re-elected were Brent Larson of Laramie, Laura Taliaferro Pearson of Kemmerer and Lisa Cunningham of Kaycee. With the return of these three producers to the Board, the WWGA continues to have the youngest in average age Executive Board of any of the Wyoming agricultural organizations.
In terms of policy, only one resolution was brought forward, which was drafted to ratify the Executive Board’s earlier interim policy that endorsed Governor Matt Mead’s plan to manage wolves upon delisting. The unanimously adopted resolution states:

Be it resolved that the Wyoming Wool Growers Association supports the proposal brought forward by Governor Matt Mead, which has been agreed to by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and which has been adopted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission through the document entitled “Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan” dated Sept. 14, 2011, and;

Be it Further Resolved that the WWGA ONLY supports the proposal as outlined and proposed by Governor Mead, and any modification to either the Governor’s proposal or the Game and Fish Commissions Sept. 14, 2011 plan that reflects the Governor’s proposal may immediately result in the withdrawal of the WWGA’s support.

Following the conclusion of the annual business meeting, the majority of the convention was focused on addressing several issues of grave importance to the Wyoming and Idaho sheep industries. Paramount was the issue of elimination of domestic sheep grazing permits in the name of big horn sheep. While Wyoming has been perceived to be in better stead than many of the other western states due to the development and adoption of the “Wyoming Domestic/Big Horn Sheep Management Plan,” that is not the case in Idaho, which has recently seen several multi-generational Forest Service grazing allotments vacated by the U.S. Forest Service in their wrong-headed rush to ostensibly “protect” Big Horns.

While Wyoming has not seen the challenges that Idaho has, that is changing as the rabid anti-livestock extremist group known as Western Watersheds has now brought its well-financed team of attorneys and activists to Wyoming with the express purpose of eliminating, through whatever means necessary, the grazing of livestock on federal lands.

Many have described the activities and agenda of Western Watersheds as disgusting and disturbing, and these activities were the subject of much discussion during the joint meeting. The industry has little choice but to meet this onslaught head-on, and strategies and plans are being put in place to do so.

Despite the “heavy” nature of many of the topics brought forward and discussed during the convention, there was still time for enjoyment and socializing. The convention was described by many as “fun,” “enlightening,” “worth the drive” and “should be done again.” Plans are already underway for the 2012 convention, which will once again be brought back to and held in Wyoming.

The WWGA wants to thank all those who took the time to make the drive over to Sun Valley, and those same folks for expressing their support and devotion to the WWGA. In particular, the WWGA wants to especially thank Wyoming Director of Agriculture Jason Fearneyough and newly appointed of Wyoming Livestock Board Director Leanne Stevenson for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the convention. Many positive statements were heard about their presence and contribution to the overall success of the convention.