Members of the Utah Wool Growers Association and the Utah Cattlemen's Association, attending join meetings this week at their annual conventions at the Salt Lake City Marriott, are optimistic about the future despite a host of problems that confront both livestock producing organizations.
Ted Lee, executive secretary of the Utah Wool Growers, said Thursday that lamb prices are down world-wide and "there is a wool glut in Australia caused by a default in payments from the Soviet Union and a drop in orders from China."We have stopped shipping wool to Iraq, because of the conflict in the Middle East. Most of the best U.S. wool is sold to Iraq."
Nevertheless, Lee said, wool growers are optimistic that these problems and current low prices will be of short duration.
Utah wool producers have built a large educational display in a semi van and plan to drive it thorughout Utah next year to visit schools and organizations. "We are going to tell our story to everybody who will listen, display sheep, hold sheep-shearing demonstrations and exhibit beautiful, practical products made from wool," Lee said.
Utah cattle producers are even more optimistic, despite a drought that has dried out Utah for more than three years and a host of challenges to the cattle industry - including threatened increases in public land grazing fees and attacks from animal rights activists and environmentalists.
Seth Weston, first vice president of the Utah Cattlemen's Association and a Randolph cattle producer, said cattle prices have held fairly steady recently and "even when cattlemen had to sell off their herds because of drought and the high price of feed, they got a good price for their animals."
Weston said cattle producers are especially optimistic about new markets for their beef in Asia and the Pacific Rim.
Spanish Fork cattle producer Glen Larsen, president of the Utah Cattlemen's Association, told members of his organization this week that "the last four years have been some of the best we've had in our industry's history."
New officers elected this week to head the Utah Wool Growers Association include Lee Jarvis, Spanish Fork, president; Paul Frischknecht, Manti, first vice president; and Dean Hansen, Fountain Green, Sanpete County, second vice president.