December 23, 2004 -- Today, December 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) posted the Final Rule for the 2004 Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Payment Program (ELRRPP). The rule announced that the application period for the program will end January 13, 2005.
The program was designed to encourage the replacement and retention of the ewe-lamb breeding stock in the United States. Severe drought conditions in 2001 and 2002 reduced ewe-lamb replacement for thousands of producers, who lacked adequate feed and water. ELRRPP provides direct payments to producers at a rate of $18 per ewe retained in the base period from August 1, 2003, through July 31, 2004.
Total payments to this program cannot exceed $18 million. In the event that eligible applications result in expenditures in excess of the amount available, FSA will prorate the payments to producers in order to stay within the $18 million available for the program.
The Final Rule does not state when producers can expect their payment; however, the second half of January is most likely.
Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC), in anticipation of the January 28, 2005, USDA-National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) inventory reports, published an article this week stating, "Improved pasture and range conditions and positive producer returns have likely increased producer interest in rebuilding cowherds and flocks."
They go on to say that the total number of sheep and lambs will more than likely be slightly below a year ago, however, "the breeding inventory is expected to be slightly above the 2004 inventory as producers have retained more ewe lambs compared to prior years." Preliminary LMIC estimates put the number of ewe lambs held for replacements at 3 to 4 percent higher than a year ago.