Greenbriar Farm Alpaca-MAM Consulting Assoc. Inc.

Where you can get any color alpaca you want as long as it is black.

January 31, 2015

By: Michael A. Morack

AOBA, ARI, Affiliates – What Are They Good For?

Foundation of the alapca community.

Questioning ones membership in an organization is what provides challenge and quality to an organization but when that question draws the conclusion the organization no longer is beneficial to me and I no longer need to support it through membership is perhaps a very short sighted view.

Responsibility is the usual argument compelling people to remain in an organization after benefits are no longer perceived. Responsibility is not without merit however I have not convinced anyone to rejoin from this point of view. Not with standing, I will point out a few items about the past that are worth reflection toward the future.

Around 1990, the United States Agriculture in conjunction with the CDC determined that should Hoof and Mouth Disease be discovered in America, a five-mile radius circle will be drawn from the epicenter and every livestock animal will be euthanized. We learned about this policy along with alpaca owners while in attendance at a GLAA meeting. Jaws dropped. Angry outbursts, “There is no science showing alpacas are at issue!” Fear with the potential loss of our entire herds was prevalent from something unrelated to these animals. AOBA addressed this with the Department of Agriculture and lobbied for and achieved a revision to this policy protecting our herds.

Prior to 2008, alpacas in the United States were exotic animals. Under this designation there were no protections or benefits. Under livestock designation we became as alpaca part of other livestock industries gaining a larger voice on Capitol Hill. We became qualified for many federal programs that assist farming. We became qualified for federal grants and loans to move our individual farms and businesses forward. We became protected from predatory zoning or regulatory headaches. The effort continues today to insure that designation is not repealed along with further protections necessary under pro-development municipalities.

AOBA and ARI for many years were one of the few sources of information about the husbandry, care, and treatment of alpacas. Many of us even with livestock background learned valuable lessons regarding the unique care required by alpacas. Both organizations developed a keen interest and awareness to alpacas in the United States generating farm visits and potential sales.

ARI has created one of the highest quality DNA based registries in the world guaranteeing pedigree. This provides a higher value in the alpaca that translates to higher prices. With the development of an EPD system we are building toward a future of rapid, quality gains in the quality of our alpacas. Coupled with this is the expectation specific genetic defects can be isolated and tested for reducing and potentially eliminating specific birth defects and loss.

Affiliates are constantly on alert for issues that impact the alpaca owner and communicate not only information but also potential solutions. They are involved with organizing fleece consolidation, marketing, and directing revenues to member farms. They provide the resources and volunteers that allow quality shows that we may participate. They provide an opportunity to gather with like-minded individuals sharing successes and failures, and developing solutions for problems that develop.

Agriculture in America has been under attack from development, environmental zealots, and government over reach and regulation. What makes agriculture an easy mark is the fact farmers are individuals with little or no organization. Farmers get picked off one at a time. An affiliate provides the cohesive organization providing a safety net in numbers to forestall regulations that degrade the ability to function.

Perhaps you found it necessary to belong to an organization however those reasons no longer exist and you have not found new reasons to remain a member. You have learned all you can from these organizations and have alternate sources for information and experience to meet new problems. You don’t’ see the value in membership any longer.

Those organizations no longer have an impact on marketing for you. I would suggest that these organizations find themselves struggling to maintain or increase membership rather than supplying the valued services they had become known. I propose that should you maintain your membership you will find the organizations very responsive to your needs, but if you leave, you may find they meet none of your current needs and may look like they never will. After all, they are working for current members, not past members who left.

These organizations protect you as a farm and livestock breeder. These organizations provide value to your alpacas. These organizations remain vigilant to legislative opportunities that may arise and vigilant to legislation that may harm the alpaca industry. These organizations are working to develop markets not only for alpacas but the products that the alpaca produces. The only way they can respond to your needs is through membership, and that group of like-minded people is the only way we move ahead successfully. These organizations are providing research, understanding, and education for the alpaca owner. These resources provide the platform that persons who have never been involved in livestock are confident they can enter the world of alpacas and succeed.