WASHINGTON – Comments on an interim final rule that establishes a National Sheep Industry Improvement Center program, consistent with the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 are being sought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.).

Appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, a board of directors will manage the general operations of the Sheep Center. The center will award grants to eligible entities to improve the production and marketing of sheep and goat products in the U.S. through infrastructure development, business development, production, resource development and market and environmental research. The program becomes effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Board members will include four active producers of sheep or goats in the U.S; two finance and management experts, one experienced in lamb, wool, goat or goat product marketing; the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development; and the Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics of U.S.D.A.

Nominations for board members can be submitted by any eligible national organization whose membership consists primarily of active sheep or goat producers in the U.S., and the primary interest of the organization is the production of sheep or goats in the U.S. U.S.D.A. will publicly announce when it will accept nominations from eligible national organizations.

The interim final rule was published July 23 in the Federal Register. Comments must be received by close of business Sept. 21. Comments must be posted online at www.regulations.gov or sent to Kenneth R. Payne, Chief, Marketing Programs, Livestock and Seed Program, A.M.S., U.S.D.A., Room 2628-S, STOP 0251, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-0251; Phone: (202) 720-1115; Fax: (202) 720-1125. All comments should reference the document number, A.M.S.-LS-08-0064; the date, and the page number of this issue of the Federal Register.