2005 was a busy year and we accomplished a great deal as an organization. I thought it might be nice to review what we did and how your money was spent this past year. With the upcoming banquet just around the corner, some of you might be wondering why we need to continue raising money and where it all goes.
There were several trips taken this past year that benefited our industry tremendously. We teamed up with NADeFA and WCDEFA on two trips to Washington, D.C. to educate our legislators. These trips are invaluable and we are finally seeing some accomplishments because of it. We also have held a Legislative Day in Madison every year to educate our State Legislators. This years event will be April 27. Please plan to join us if you can.
When I asked a friend of mine from Pennsylvania if he would consider donating to WOW for our annual banquet, his response was, Yes, I will. I was so impressed with your group in Washington, D.C.. He went on to say that he attended meetings with other state associations while in D.C. and he said the other meetings did not compare to the meetings he attended with our group. He stated we were so far ahead of the other states on educating the legislators. They already knew who we were and what we do. The other states are still on the first level of education and WOW has advanced to the next level. This is in no way a cut on the other states because we all need to start somewhere with the educating process and Whitetails of Wisconsin saw the need and took the lead two years prior. The other states have decided it is a necessary evil and have joined us in the endeavor. We are so much more effective now that we have the other states joining in.
The trip to the USAHA conference is another trip where our money is well spent. The contacts we make here are worth their weight in gold. We currently are working with USDA/APHIS on the DNA protocol that is so needed by our industry. We also managed to get the CWD research approved for Stan Halls animals. The initial contacts with top officials of USDA/APHIS were made on the Washington, D.C. trip and at the Animal Health Conference. USDA and APHIS know who we are and what we are fighting for. They also know we are not going away anytime soon. This years USAHA conference will be held in Minneapolis, MN and I am hoping I can convince more of you to attend. It is imperative for our industry to attend this conference to stay on top of the rule-making process. This is where it all begins. The science and the research material presented here is very educational and I hope I have done my job by bringing this information back to our members and sharing what I have learned.
Passage of the bill AB345 was an important step for us. The legislators voted unanimously to pass this bill, telling me we did a great job of educating them on how important this bill is to the deer farmers who were put out of business because of the Captive Wildlife Bill. (80 acres or more was required to sell a hunt on your property and there was no allowance made for those who were previously hunting on less than 80 acres after its passage.)
The individuals who helped tremendously in getting this bill passed need to be recognized. Those who attended the hearings and testified were Steve Hookstead, Dale Matis, Pete Matis, Curt Waldvogel, Guyland VanAsten, Bob Konopacky, John Gooch, Gary Goyke, Representative Mary Williams and myself. John Gooch attended on behalf of the Wisconsin Commercial Deer & Elk Farmers Association and did a great job in his testimony. We appreciate WCDEFAs help on this bill. Bob Konopacky, Dale Matis, Pete Matis and I also spent an afternoon visiting the offices of our Senators and Representatives informing them of the bill and why it was so important to these individuals.
Representative Scott Gunderson took the bull by the horns and helped tremendously in getting this bill through the House, which then made it easier for its passage in the Senate. That is why he is receiving The Legislator of the Year award from WOW at our annual banquet. Gary Goyke also did a wonderful job of guiding us through this process. Many of us felt frustrated during the process because it took so long, but the bill probably would not have passed a few years ago due to the CWD hysteria in the years prior. But now, the time was right and we succeeded!
We were successful in helping Russell Hanke with his permit issue (read more about this elsewhere in this newsletter) and hopefully we will be successful in helping Bob & Sandy Holig with their upcoming permit issue. We supported West Virginia financially with their battle and we also contributed in other ways. I have included an update on West Virginia and how we helped them in this issue of the newsletter.
We continue to support Curt Christenson in his legal issue for his right to a second test and DNA verification. We stand behind all deer farmers right to know that the CWD positive sample is indeed positive and whose farm it came from without any doubt. Read the article titled Lab mistake narrows CWD circle in this newsletter issue and see that human error does occur and what we are demanding is not unrealistic.
At this years Cervid Congress, we all decided our number one goal needs to be Education. Educating our legislators, USDA/APHIS, and the general public needs to be top priority. WOW purchased a trailer for hauling our booth around the country to various shows to educate. We started with Farm Technology Days two years ago and this coming year, we will be doing more farm shows and will be expanding to hunt shows.
WOW sponsored a seminar on artificial insemination this past summer. It was a hugh success and we plan to do more seminars in the future. Let us know what you would like to learn more about.
Lets not forget the quarterly newsletter and bulletins we send out to keep our members informed at a very reasonable cost to our membership. We hired an executive secretary this year to help with this task. Most people do not realize how much work there is to do behind the scenes to keep this organization running smoothly. The work load was becoming too much. Most of us work outside the home, plus the work that comes with deer farming and we were unable to give enough of our time to keep you informed on a regular basis. Myndi is a huge asset to this organization and is the perfect person for this position. As a member, I am sure you will appreciate what she has to offer this organization. The WOW website has been revamped and has been improved immensely. No one showed an interest in keeping it up to date until Deb Myers volunteered a year ago and she has done a great job with it. We now have a photo gallery which allows our members to show off their deer all over the world. Every members farm who requested to be listed is on this website. The website also has a listing for hunting ranches. Please take advantage of the free advertising by posting your photos and your farm.
I am very proud of WOWs accomplishments since we began this organization. I know there are many deer farmers out there who blame us for all that has happened since CWD was discovered and I think they need to put their blame on the disease and how it was handled by the DNR, rather than WOW. We are doing all we can to see that this industry succeeds and that there will be a future for our children in this business.