In early 2000, the American Meat Goat Association (AMGA) and the American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) launched a joint effort to create an all-inclusive national goat organization. The ADGA was well-established and the AMGA which was much younger, was struggling to become more than just a Texas-based organization. Marvin Shurley, who was instrumental in maintaining the AMGA, and who was heavily involved in the meat goat industry had a mission to make that happen. Both he and Linda Campbell from ADGA were personally involved in the discussions and steps toward a national group, which was originally labeled the American Goat Council.
Marvin, because he ran sheep too, was aware of the work done by the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). When the initial effort stalled, he approached ASI to create an action group with a goat focus and ADGA (Linda) to be part of the leadership team. Although AMGA still existed at that time, it was struggling as an organization and would eventually be disbanded. The unfortunate demise of AMGA represented the loss of one original component of the partnership and joint-effort.
The ASI goat committee (with the support of several ASI presidents) continued work toward creating a body that could effectively represent the interests of the entire goat industry. The Goat Committee was composed of members who owned sheep and goats, or owned goats only, or were otherwise involved with the goat industry and/or sheep industry. Several of the goat-only members were invited to serve on the goat committee because of their involvement in that sector.
The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center (NSIIC), while not active in forming AGF, provided financial support at various times that helped facilitate the development of the AGF. Although NSIIC’s name does not suggest support for the goat industry, the objectives do include support for issues and initiatives to develop the goat sector. Many of the people, who were involved , served (or have served) in leadership positions of the NSIIC while also having leadership roles in either the sheep or goat sectors.
The NSIIC awarded a grant to the Kentucky Sheep and Goat Development Office, which took the first steps toward building a new organization modeled on the ASI operational model. Ray Bowman, who was also a member of the ASI Goat Committee, was Executive Officer of that Office at the time.
An initial meeting that included various members of the goat industry, as well as several from the ASI Goat Committee was organized. In 2009, an interim Board of twelve directors was appointed from among eighteen candidates nominated and voted on by the ASI Goat Committee. Ray Bowman directed the process. At the time, Lee Bloodworth (TX) and Dean Swenson (ND) were co-chairs of the Goat Committee. Previous chair persons of the goat committee included Glen Fisher and Nina Baucus.
The new organization name was determined (AGF), the process of meetings to draw-up bylaws, become incorporated, and the like was undertaken. ASI provided guidance in the process and offered administrative services for a fee before a transition to the current administrative office in Maine. A second grant from NSIIC was awarded to AGF in 2012 for educational and other activities.