By Boyd Champness

AUSTRALIAN farmers are bracing themselves for the worst after American lamb producers rejected their offer of help in-exchange for dropping their demands of trade sanctions against imported lamb.

Australian and New Zealand farmers offered to help fund a four-year, US$5 million (£3m) lamb promotion scheme in the United States if the American Sheep Industry Association abandoned its push for quotas or tariffs on imported lamb.

Australia and New Zealand was prepared to chip in US$1.5 million if US producers contributed US$3.5 million to promote lamb across the USA.

Sheepmeat Council of Australia executive director Peter Klein told the Stock and Land: “About one-third of the lamb eaten in the US is imported so we are prepared to pay for one-third of the promotion.”

Mr Klein said the US sheep industry had released a consultants report that blamed much of the industrys woes on its failure to promote lamb.

It said a promotional campaign worth at least US$5 million over four years was needed to turn around lambs fortunes in the US.

But he told the newspaper US lamb producers had done themselves no favours by voting out a producer levy several years ago, leaving their industry short of funds.

This was the impetus behind Australia and New Zealands offer of help. But in a major snub to Australian producers, the association dismissed the offer outright and refused to even meet with an Australian delegation for talks in Washington.

It now appears certain that US President Bill Clinton will introduce some sort of tariff or quota regime on 6 June, after the International Trade Commission (ITC) voted 6-0 in favour of sanctions against lamb imports.