AMS Moves in Right Direction on Lamb Reporting
August 18, 2017

On Monday, Aug. 14, Mike Lynch, Director of the Agriculture Marketing Service's Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division informed a group of sheep industry stakeholders that AMS will, for the first time, begin reporting lamb purchases by cooperatives on a weekly basis this week in their new "Comprehensive" category. The category, recently created by AMS, includes negotiated and formula purchase transactions.

"AMS has been exploring this and studying price information submitted for cooperative owned lambs to better understand how price discovery is determined and evaluate how it compares to other direct market lamb purchases," Lynch wrote in an email. "Following our analysis, AMS Market News has found this weekly data to be comparable to the rest of the market currently being reported. In effort to improve the transparency of the direct lamb market, AMS plans to begin including cooperative member lamb information in the calculations of the Comprehensive Information section on the National Weekly Slaughter Sheep Review (LM_LM352). This change will be implemented for the report to be published this Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. In addition, this section of the report will specify that the Comprehensive Information includes all negotiated, formula, & cooperative member lamb data submitted each week."

AMS has historically maintained that lambs purchased by cooperatives are "packer-owned" and thus have not included the lamb purchase transactions in Livestock Mandatory Reporting.

"We believe including cooperative purchases in the comprehensive category is a step in the right direction," said American Sheep Industry Association Executive Director Peter Orwick. "However, ASI holds the position that U.S. lamb purchase transactions between our largest cooperative and individual producers are legitimate transactions between a buyer and seller and not packer-owned lambs."

ASI believes it is in the entire industry's best interest that cooperative transactions should be reported in the category that they actually fit into (negotiated or formula) on a weekly basis, just the same as purchases by other business structures.