GOAT AND SHEEP PRODUCERS SEEK CHECKOFF PROGRAM
"MONTGOMERY, Ala." Alabama voters will have an opportunity to help one of the state's budding agricultural industries when they go to the polls Nov. 5. Amendment 3, commonly referred to as the sheep and goat amendment, was placed on the general election ballot at the request of farmers in the state who would like to implement a voluntary checkoff program to fund education, promotion and research of the sheep and goat industry.
"This amendment only affects sheep and goat producers, but because of the way our state constitution is written it must be considered by all voters," said James Griffin, chairman of the Goat and Sheep Division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. "Approval of Amendment 3 would then allow sheep and goat producers in the state to hold a referendum to determine if they want to implement a voluntary checkoff program."
Griffin said it's important to note that Amendment 3 is not a tax, but it could help increase farmers' net income by creating new markets for livestock producers.
"The sheep and goat industry is one of the fastest growing agricultural segments in our state, primarily because of the increase in ethnic populations in the Southeast," Griffin said. "While not too many Alabamians grew up eating sheep and goat meat, it is very popular among Hispanics and other ethnic groups. The demand for the meat is growing in our state, but the biggest markets right now are in Atlanta and south Florida."
Funds generated by the proposed checkoff would be collected when animals are sold. Members of a statewide committee consisting of sheep and goat producers would determine how the money is spent, but would be limited to education, promotion and research, similar to how other agricultural checkoff programs in the state work.