October 15, 2003
Oct. 2003 -- ?This was the fifteenth consecutive year sheep numbers have declined,? stated Rob Davison, executive director of the New Zealand Economic Service at Meat and Wool Innovation, as he released the results of a survey indicating livestock numbers on hand at the start of the 2003-2004 farming year.
Davison went on to say that sheep numbers have now declined in 20 of the last 21 years. Sheep numbers in New Zealand are estimated at 39.15 million -- a long way from the 1982 peak of 70.3 million head.
?This reflects efforts by farmers to protect the breeding capacity of the flock despite the adverse condition,? stated Davison. ?Breeding ewes were estimated to be down 0.7 percent to 26.54 million head. This is the lowest total of breeding ewes since 1955 (48 years).?
?This trend of declining sheep numbers reported by New Zealand is comparable to nearly all sheep-producing counties in recent decades,? commented Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). ?U.S. sheep producers increased sheep numbers in the 1986 through 1990 time-frame, but numbers have gone downward since the elimination of the Wool Act in 1993. A recent statistical report shows a steep loss in Australia also, projecting less than 100 million sheep in 2004 -- down from 170 million in the early 1990s.?
ASI has been actively working to stabilize the U.S. inventory through the retained ewe-lamb program -- a program that increased breeding ewe lambs in 2002.
?In one year of the program, we gained ewe lambs in all regions of the country that didn?t experience severe drought,? added Orwick. ?This shows that the program is successful.?
ASI is campaigning to extend the ewe-lamb program an additional year for those producers who were unable to participate due to lack of feed and water. A decision from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the extension request is expected shortly.
USDA Launches New Trade Adjustment Assistance Program
Oct. 2003 -- Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced on Aug. 21, 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture?s (USDA) new Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers (TAA) program. USDA will start accepting petitions immediately from authorized representatives and U.S. agricultural producers for assistance.
Under the program, technical assistance and adjustment payments will be provided to agricultural, livestock and aquacultural producers if it is demonstrated that increased imports of competitive commodities have contributed importantly to a 20-percent or more price decline compared to the average price over five preceding marketing years.
The Trade Act of 2002 established the TAA for Farmers program and authorized appropriations to carry out the program not to exceed $90 million a year for fiscal years 2003 through 2007. The Federal Register explaining the program can be accessed at: http://www.fas.usda.gov/info/fr/2003/082003taa.htm
According to Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), ?The association is currently doing the analysis for eligibility on price impact of imports for a five-year average.?
Sage-Grouse Comment Period
Oct. 2003 -- The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) joined forces with the National Cattlemen?s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Association and Grassland Association to finalize and submit comments on the Bureau of Land Management?s (BLM) Sage-Grouse Habitat Conservation Strategy.
The strategy places enforceable regulatory requirements on leases and permits within sage-grouse habitat. Approximately 25 percent of the industry is dependent upon this land for grazing.
The final draft was completed on Aug. 18, 2003, and was then forwarded to Western states for approval. It was then submitted to BLM on Aug. 20, 2003.