June 13, 2008
June 13, 2008 - The U.S. sheep industry is complex, multifaceted and rooted in history and tradition, states the study done by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The dominant feature of sheep production in the United States, and, thus, the focus of much producer and policy concern, has been the steady decline in sheep and lamb inventories since the mid-1940s. Although often described as an industry in decline, this report concludes that a better description of the current U.S. sheep industry is an industry in transition.
The study "Changes in the Sheep Industry in the United States: Making the Transition from Tradition" was released on Wednesday.
Researchers site numerous events and issues that U.S. producers have had to struggle against leading to the decline; however, there are reasons for optimism in the future. The research document covered in a thorough manner a multitude of issues within the industry from sheep health to the U.S. lamb, wool and dairy industries to alternative and emerging markets.
The conclusion of the study states, "The emergence of new and alternative markets for sheep products signifies that the industry may be on the brink of a transition from traditional practices and marketing channels to new markets, new technologies, new products and a new consumer base. This offers the potential to arrest the decline experienced over the last several decades."
"The industry is pleased to have a report created by the Academy and, given their distinguished reputation, the study will serve as a seminal document on our industry for years to come," said Burdell Johnson, American Sheep Industry Association president. "We hope the industry finds it useful as the association put considerable resources to securing a report by the Academy."
The Academy released the report to the U.S. Congress just prior to the public version as Sen. Robert Bennett (Utah) authored the formal request.
To purchase the entire research book or to access the executive summary at no charge, visit www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12245