ARBA Board Conference Call 1-14-2012

by Site Admin on February 11, 2012

President Ron Andress called the meeting to order at 1:07 pm EST. In attendance were President Ron Andress, Vice President Charlene Carlisle, At Large directors Tracy Haslem and Carol Pasheilich as well as Regional Directors Hilary Chapin, Scott Culver, Ed Julian, Becky Petrick and Randy Thompson and Secretary/Treasurer Christiane Payton. Not in attendance were At Large Director Willis Plank and Regional Director Michelle Reilly.

Christiane Payton gave a brief Treasurer’s Report. The balance in the general account at the end of December 2011 was $4,462.00, the balance in the junior account was $5,353.09 and the cd balance was $15,495.52. Of particular note was that the revamping of the website by Doug Meyer of Mt. Niche Designs cost a total of $400.

Old Business

President R. Andress asked that the text of 3 letters be placed into the minutes and there were no objections.

The first letter was sent to ARBA President elect R. Andress in July of 2011 by Stephen Schafer of Anchorage Farm, NY. The full text of the letter is as follows:

To: the New Board ARBA (terms starting or continuing Sept 23, 2011) date July 17 2011

From: Stephen Shafer, member ARBA 8 Mynderse Street Saugerties NY 12477

The election held in May-June of this year brought out four serious problems in the governance of ARBA. All must be remedied before the next election. These are as follows: (1) sudden proliferation of multiplex memberships, by which I mean two or more active memberships at the same mailing address (2) sudden proliferation of shell memberships, by which I mean active membership taken by one or more individuals whose mailing address makes it unlikely that sheep these individuals own are kept at or near that address (3) active membership accepted for young children (4) inability of ARBA to be certain that a ballot received came from an active member aged eighteen or older . Under the current bylaws that is the only category of member (besides the few life members) entitled to vote .

None of these problems violates the letter of ARBA bylaws, which are silent on all. On problem (1), for example, the bylaws do not say how many active memberships there can be for a particular operation. There have been in past years a few couples in which two adults are active members of ARBA. These couples usually ran some of the larger flocks, with both members involved with week-to-week operation. Another reason for having two memberships was that both members of the couple wanted to run for ARBA office. I believe, however, that it violates the spirit of ARBA governance to have two or more active members at the same address when circumstantial evidence suggests there is no physical need to have two or more adults caring for the sheep week-to-week. This is related to “shell” memberships, but not exactly the same; a shell membership can be created for one person only.

One can’t tell from reviewing the membership list on the ARBA web site how many “shell” memberships are for one member active paying dues as active and thereby (if eighteen or older) entitled to vote. Non-rural addresses at which a relative of an ARBA member lives do raise a flag . These give at least the appearance that the Romney(s) owned by that member live somewhere else. Here again, ARBA bylaws are silent. There can be good reasons for someone to own sheep kept elsewhere than on the owner’s premises. A junior member, for example, may own a Romney that stays in its flock of origin but is cared for day to day by that junior member; this is not uncommon in 4H. By contrast, an adult who wants to invest in a Romney flock maintained elsewhere by a family member or friend has no need to be an active member; he or she could be an associate member. This kind of setup for an active member is not enjoined by the ARBA bylaws, but should be.

To make someone an active member of ARBA all that is now required is payment of active-member dues and some assurance – never checked – that the new member owns, breeds or transfers purebred Romneys . There is no enquiry about age. Until the bylaws were recently amended to specify that a voting member must be both active and age eighteen or over, people saw the possibility that a countable ballot could be submitted in the name of an individual of any age who was carried as “active.”

If the board wishes, I will give specific instances of problems 1-3. That is probably un-necessary. I acknowledge that “shell” memberships were created by both sides in this factional election.

As to problem 4, there is no way to know whether any ballots mailed to active members under age 18 were actually submitted. Each ballot had a statement for the voter to check off asserting that she or he was eighteen or older. There was no provision, however, for that honor-system checkoff to be validated at any stage.

None of these problems will be a snap to solve. There will be pros and cons to any changes. I have suggestions on each to offer for the Board’s consideration.

The Board discussed the contents of the letter. It was noted one of S. Schafer’s concerns had been resolved through the adoption of a standardized membership application during the Old Board meeting of September 2011. Board members then went on to discuss membership status and voting age in ARBA elections. E. Julian asked that it be made part of the record that he disagreed with the voting age of 18 and up for ARBA members.

Letter From Schwider

The Board then moved on to discuss the second letter under consideration. It was written by Al and Lin Schwider of the Pines Farm; the text found in the attached file. (click the small image at the right to view the letter)

A discussion ensued. Board members spoke of educating judges and breeders regarding the Romney breed standard, having the breed standard highlighted on the home page of the ARBA website, and how the market should sift out animals that did not meet the standard.

President Andress then asked the Board to review the third letter which had been sent in by Mary Pratt (text below.)

To: Ron Andress, President, American Romney Breeders’ Association – September 22, 2011

Cc: Board of Directors, American Romney Breeders’ Association

Cc: Christiane Payton, Secretary, American Romney Breeders’ Association

From: Mary Pratt, ARBA Member since 1988, Board Member for 11 years

Dear Ron, ARBA Board of Directors, and Christiane,

I’m writing to you to express my deep concern for the future of ARBA and the Romney breed. I request that this letter be given to all of the New Board, entered into the minutes of Sept. 2011 New Board meeting.

The first issue is this year’s election and ARBA membership. I discovered possible irregularities in memberships through simple Internet searches. A couple of examples are here, and there are more.

I urge the Board to become proactive rather than reactive; the Board must be prepared to anticipate problems before they arise. Safeguards must be put into place well before the next election, in the bylaws and in the membership application to guard against this and any other scheme that someone might dream up.

Likely, the most egregious and ridiculous of the questionable activities relating to the 2011 election was the apparent entry into active membership of an infant. (I thank the Board for changing the definition in the bylaws of minimum aged for active member, which should, but might not stop this practice.) An ARBA member reported to me that they never heard of some new members as shepherds in their small state, where all the wool breeders pretty much know each other.

Does this bevy of new members actually own Romney sheep? If they do own Romneys, where to the sheep actually reside? Oh my, such enthusiasm for the Romney breed is surely unprecedented.

That these questions and rumors would even come up is such a disappointment. The Association’s integrity has lost its burnish this year.

The ARBA Board must take steps to restore the Association’s integrity and insure the validity of its membership. There’s a simple way to make a start: A very small amendment to the bylaws.

My 1992 copy of the bylaws reads, “Active membership is limited to members of the association who own, breed and register Romney sheep in the association flock book each year [emphasis added].

The phrase ‘each year’ must be returned to the latest definition of Active Member, as indicated. “Active membership is limited to members of the association eighteen (18) years of age or older who own, breed or register Romney sheep in the association Flock Book each year and who pay their dues as outlined in Article III section 3.”

Another of my concerns is the integrity of the Romney as a pure breed of sheep. Before I bought my first Romney, I did a lot of research into various purebreds, and learned that many were no longer pure. I saw many examples of sheep that did not conform to breed standards.

Even as early as the late 1980s, the red hair coats of Tunis sheep had lightened from suspected crossbreeding. The fleeces of Dorsets showed evidence of interbreeding with various wool breeds, probably Rambouillet and Columbia. (The head of one of my Dorset rams often showed the obvious appearance of Rambouillet.) The Corriedale no longer had a typical fleece, and its head often showed influence of Rambouillet. Many Southdowns no longer had the typical mousey gray-brown face, and Shropshires had lost the brown hair coat on their noses, had long ears, and were obviously crossed with Suffolk.

We started our sheep flock with some crossbred practice sheep, and then bought a Romney ram, and early on also had a few purebred (so-called) Dorsets. One of the Dorest rams clearly showed the head type of a Rambouillet.

After I owned Romneys for a few years, I was elected Mid-Atlantic District Director. One of the issues of most concern, nearly 20 years ago, was that of crossbreeding. Members of the District were adamant that the Romney remain a pure breed.

Many people were winking at this cheating with other breeds, others were so discouraged they stopped registering their particular breed, and potentially valuable genetics were lost. I could give many examples from my own discussions with breeders and observations of other breeds of sheep.

I settled on the Romney for my purebred flock because it was known to be a breed that hadn’t been messed with. Breeders had helped keep the breed fresh and true. Now I no longer have confidence that outside genetics hasn’t been infused into the Romney.

Now I hear that many of the fleeces entered in the purebred division at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival do not have correct Romney breed type. Fleece traits are so heritable, and the Romney breed’s fleece unique, that it’s relatively easy to identify a fleece that doesn’t conform to the breed standard.

Today there’s renewed interest in recessive colored Romneys. However not all recessive color patterns exist in Romney sheep. Some, for example, are typical of Merino. ARBA must take care to educate its members regarding which color patterns are most likely to be typical of Romney sheep. For example the ‘self’ pattern in the Romney is solid color over the entire body, while the self pattern in the Merino shows a white cap on the head and a white triangle under the neck.

There is (so far) no way to prove that crossbreeding has occurred in any breed, aside from seeing changes in phenotype, as I (with very little livestock experience at the time) was able to see in other breeds. And now with more experience, it does seem that some Romneys do not conform well to the breed standard.

Eventually we may be able to prove sheep breed purity through DNA testing, which is currently available for dogs.

The Board needn’t and can’t throw up its hands. It has to lead and to educate our members. The first step would be to improve the information on the web site.

The first “American Romney” booklet, which I worked on in 1995, had this statement, on page 3. “Although many other breeds have gone through several trendy changes over the years, The American Romney remains a practical, dual purpose breed, which forms the basis for many profitable sheep and wool enterprises. Breeders are continually striving for improvement, and the American Romney Breeders Association insists that improvement come from within the breed.”

Quoting the Breed Standard in that booklet in its very first paragraph is the following, “The Association insists that the improvement of the breed come from within the purebred confines of the breed itself.”

Unfortunately these statements do not appear anywhere on the ARBA web site. Since the Internet is the place where many people, especially young people, acquire information, the web site needs to be updated in the appropriate places.

Other ways that ARBA can be proactive and guard against crossbreeding are to educate new members, run workshops by reputable breeders, select judges, and take public stands against ‘infusion of outside genetics’ into the Romney breed. Perhaps a bank of fleece samples could be assembled and sent to all new members.

In addition I ask that the Board pass a resolution that the statement be on the front page of the web site, to highlight the importance of true Romney genetics, and to indicate the Board’s resoluteness on this issue.

Sincerely, Mary Pratt

Following some Board discussion on the topics of membership, voting and crossbreeding, C. Pasheilich moved that the definition of active membership in ARBA be reviewed by the By Law Committee. S. Culver seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. C. Pasheilich then asked the Board to agree to a response to the 3 letter writers. President Andress said that he would like to see a small committee craft a statement to each letter writer, bringing them up to date on the discussions that took place as well as how their concerns were going to be handled going forward. S. Culver said that the Policies & Procedures Committee could work on this and agreed to submit a draft to the Board no later than February 29, 2012.

New Business

Ramblings Editor: The qualifications of Cindy Peterson to be the new Romney Ramblings editor were reviewed. S. Culver moved that the ARBA Board accept C. Peterson as the new Ramblings editor. T. Haslem seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. R. Andress made the point of order that if there were more than 2 Board members in opposition to a motion, that there would be a roll call.

2012 District Shows

  1. District 2: to take place in NJ at the Garden State Sheep Breeders Fiber Festival 9/8 – 9/9/2012 with separate white and natural colored shows. It wasn’t known whether there would be a separate junior show on Friday or if juniors were going to be pulled out during the open show.
  2. District 4: to be held at the Oregon State Fair in Salem, OR on 8/24 with the juniors showing on 8/25. The Old Board meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place the morning of Friday 8/24 with the open show taking place that afternoon. S. Culver had received a commitment from Mr. McEwen to create 10 sheep trophies for the show (also the venue for celebrating ARBA’s centennial and the location for the ARBA annual meeting) – one for each champion and reserve ram and ewe as well as for the premier breeder in the white and natural colored classes. The cost of the trophies is $60/each and they will need member sponsors. The Oregon Romney Breeders Association was planning on helping with premiums for youth exhibitors. A sale in conjunction with the show was under consideration.
  3. District 6: to take place at the Western North Carolina Ag Center in Fletcher, NC on 9/15-9/16/2012.

Specialty Sale: C. Carlisle informed the Board that it was time to decide whether or not to renew a commitment to the Romney Specialty Sale held on alternating years with the National Show. The sale is held in Springfield, IL and managed by G. Deakin of Banner Magazine. In 2012, it is to take place on 6/22-6/23. 2% of sales go back to ARBA and 10% goes to Banner as they absorb the full cost of the advertising. There are usually numerous transportation options heading both east and west and, based on some preliminary calls, there were at least 8 to 10 head of both colored and white Romneys expected at the sale. C. Carlisle moved that the ARBA participate in the 2012 Specialty Sale in Springfield, IL and T. Haslem seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

All American Jr. Show: C. Carlisle reported to the Board that the 2012 All American Jr. Show was to be held 7/6-7/8 in Des Moines, IA. The total cost to participate was $850/yr. Following some discussion, C. Carlisle moved that ARBA participate in the 2012 All American Jr. Show based on a financial commitment from the Board of $350 with the balance of the money to come from fund raising for the event. T. Haslem seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

100th Anniversary Logo: The Board received submissions from members Taylor Clark, Mary Iselin, Stephanie Barker, Michelle Reilly and Kathleen Zappelli. These were reviewed by a sifting committee comprised of S. Culver, C. Carlisle and H. Chapin. 4 designs were presented to the ARBA Board for final consideration. By a polling of the Board, Stephanie Barker’s design was chosen, with the understanding that she be approached about altering the grass to make it look more realistic. The ARBA Board commends all of the artists’ efforts and talents.

Committee Reports

  1. Policy & Procedures: a list of 3 proposals was submitted to the ARBA Board by the Policy & Procedures Committee. The text was as follows:

    ARBA Policy and Procedures Committee
    Members: Scott Culver, Ed Julian and Sue Kalina, all present
    Meeting January 8, 2012
    Minutes and Recommendations to ARBA Board

    1. ARBA Website:
      It is recommended the article on “Romney Sheep Lists on Yahoo” be removed from the website. The committee felt the article promotes these lists however since ARBA has no control over the content or opinions expressed on these lists and does not necessarily agree with the information provided, ARBA should not be promoting these lists as a good place to review more information on Romneys.
    2. ARBA Website:
      It is recommended to add the following statement to the “Links” page:
      CURRENT statement:
      The links on this page are to primarily informational resources. Please help us make this a more useful resource for others – send suggestions for links and categories to Thanks!
      PROPOSED statement:
      The links on this page are primarily informational resources. Please remember that ARBA does not sanction, support or control the content found here. Help us make this a more useful resource for others – send suggestions for links and categories to Thanks!
    3. Nominating Procedures:
      The topic of discussion was how to handle a volunteer nominating themselves for an ARBA office.
      Following the By-Laws Section 3, third paragraph and the January 15, 2011 minutes discussing the elections, the Policy and Procedures Committee recommend the following:
      If an individual would like to volunteer for an ARBA position, they must contact the President or Secretary of ARBA between the dates of March 10 and April 10 of the election year. The President or Secretary will then convey the nomination to the appropriate nominating committee.
      We recommend the following article be placed on the ARBA website starting in February of the election year to inform members of the procedures:
      Nominating / Election Procedures
      Are you an active member and interested in running for an office in ARBA? Volunteers are always welcome to nominate themselves by using the following procedure: Call or email between the dates of March 10th to April 10th the President or Secretary and let them know what office you are interested in. The President or Secretary will then forward your nomination to the correct committee. The Nominating Committees meet between April 1st and May 1st annually and report to the secretary no later than May 1st with recommendations. Biographies of the nominees are due to the secretary by May 15th, and ballots are mailed by May 25th, due back by June 10th and the tally completed by July 1st. Thank you for your interest in ARBA.

    The Board discussed item #3 first. S. Culver moved that the recommendations regarding nominating committee procedure be adopted. E. Julian seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. T. Halsem moved that a disclaimer be added to the Links page of the ARBA website, S. Culver seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. As the wording on the ARBA website home page had changed since the drafting of the Policy & Procedures Committee recommendations, item #1 was no longer relevant.

  2. Website: C. Pasheilich reported to the Board that the new website design by Doug Meyer of Mt. Niche Farm Services was being positively received. She encouraged everyone to send in photos for the slide show as well as to keep articles current and informative.
  3. Advertising: C. Pasheilich informed the Board that the Advertising Committee is working on creating a promotional DVD of the Romney breed in conjunction with ARBA’s centennial celebration. The biggest issue regarding this project is cost. District Directors are being asked to provide a list of regional shows together with contact information in order to explore more advertising opportunities going forward.
  4. Youth: C. Carlisle reported that other than the ARBA sponsorship of the 2012 All American Jr. Show, there were no developments for the Youth Committee. President Andress asked if it would be possible for an informational letter to go out to ARBA junior members as in previous years and C. Carlisle agreed to do this. After some discussion, T. Haslem moved that the ARBA Board support Ron Andress’ continued running of the Morris Culver Memorial Scholarship Fund, S. Culver seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
  5. AI/ET: R. Thompson reported that there had been no submissions and therefore there was nothing to report.
  6. Bylaws: S. Culver asked that R. Andress be added to the committee on the website and C. Payton agreed to communicate this information to the webmaster.

C. Pasheilich moved that the ARBA Board authorize the payment of $200 toward the purchase of new computer software for President Andress. Following some discussion, it was decided that costs and options should be considered. C. Pahseilich withdrew the motion.

The next ARBA Board meeting date was set for Saturday March 31, 2012 at 1 pm EST. Topics to be discussed are approval of the 2012-2013 budget, the creation of nominating committees as well as an update on the centennial logo. Budget requests are to be submitted to President Andress no later than March 1. S. Culver made the motion to adjourn the meeting, C. Carlisle seconded the motion and it passed unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 4:53 pm EST.

Submitted by C. Payton on 1/26/2012
Approved February 2012

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