President Krebs Testifies on Capitol Hill
May 2, 2014

American Sheep Industry Association President Clint Krebs testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit Hearing on Tuesday, April 29.

"Mr. Chairman, Thank you for calling this hearing on livestock. I am pleased to visit with you today about the status and priorities of America's sheep ranchers and farmers," Krebs said in his introduction.

Throughout his remarks, Krebs focused on key issues impacting the sheep industry ranging from market volatility, market reporting, immigration and wildlife services, to name a few.

"The sheep industry of the United States provides nearly a billion dollars in farm and ranch gate sales to the American economy and is a mainstay of the many rural communities where sheep ranchers and farmers are foundational members.

"Because price volatility has been a key issue for sheep producers, lamb feeders and meat companies the past three years, our industry has undertaken plans with all sectors to secure the steady lamb markets we had from 2002 through 2010.

"The lamb industry has hopefully entered a lasting higher-demand era, largely supported by continued tight supplies and steady lamb prices. The Livestock Market Information Center sees "cautious optimism" for sheep producers in 2014."

Krebs relayed that the sheep industry secured a 40 percent increase in the assessment rate of its American lamb promotion checkoff to fund more work in the lamb business.

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) continues to be a great partner for our industry. In addition to oversight of the lamb checkoff program, AMS also oversees the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center. AMS is in the process of addressing a requested update to the Mandatory Price Reporting system for lamb, which includes consideration of reporting requirements and thresholds for domestic lamb companies and lamb importers.

"Wildlife Services is another important USDA role that we ask for your continued support. Sheep and lamb losses to predators and predator management costs are the second largest expense to sheep operations; second only to the cost of feed. We thank the committee for its longstanding support of USDA Wildlife Services"

Krebs reminded members the U.S. House of Representatives voted in support of the program and needs to be prepared to do so again. He mentioned that each livestock species used the program whether for starling control at feedlots, feral hog control or wolf and coyote predation.

"Trade negotiators must make it a high priority to reopen market access for American lamb. It is wrong that 10 years after Japan closed its market to our lamb that it is still banned today. It was a top market for lamb and it must be a priority for trade negotiators to get American lamb back in play.

"We welcome the authorization of the Livestock Indemnity and Livestock Forage programs. California's drought and the killer blizzard in South Dakota last fall have sheep producers in those two states, and others, already meeting with county Farm Service Agency officials."

The live testimony has been archived at http://agriculture.house.gov/hearing/review-state-livestock-industry#. The written testimony is available under the Testimony tab at www.sheepusa.org/IssuesPrograms_AsiPositions.