WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Sheep and wool purchased by handlers in Indiana will begin assessment for the state checkoff program starting Dec. 1 to fund the state’s newly created Sheep and Wool Market Development Program.

The program was first proposed in July 2012 when a petition was delivered to Purdue University’s Office of the Dean of Agriculture with signatures from nearly 6 percent of the state’s known sheep producers. The Office of Agricultural Research at Purdue, or ARP, administered the petition, registration and referendum process, which led to the establishment of the checkoff on June 20.

The program officially began on July 1 with the agreement that the checkoff assessment would begin once remittance forms were approved. Those forms, along with more information about the program, have been mailed to the state’s sheep and wool handlers.

Handlers are people or entities that engage in the selling, marketing or distribution of sheep or wool that is purchased for resale or marketed on behalf of the sheep producer.

When wool or sheep are sold, 0.5 percent will be deducted from the net market price for the checkoff assessment, said Jerry Fankhauser, assistant director of ARP.

“The handler or purchaser deducts the one-half of 1 percent of net market price from the purchase at the time of the sale,” he said. “This assessment is then sent monthly to Purdue Agriculture where it is deposited in a dedicated sheep and wool fund.”

The Sheep and Wool Market Development Council, which will administer the program, will make recommendations to the director of ARP on how to spend the funds. They can be spent in the areas of sheep and wool research, education, market development and promotion.

The council will be composed of sheep and wool producers representing nine county-based districts. Indiana sheep producers will have the opportunity to elect the council when ballots are mailed out in December.

The goals of the Sheep and Wool Market Development Program include supporting sheep and wool research, encouraging consumer education about lamb and wool products and stressing market development, including producer education and sales promotion.

Questions about the program or the checkoff assessment should be directed Fankhauser at (765) 494-8368 or agresearch@purdue.edu.