February 17, 2006 -- The Board of Directors of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) recently approved action requesting that sheep meat trade reform be included as a priority in the negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
There are relatively few players in the world sheep meat market; however, fair trade is just as important as it is for other meats.
ASI has testified before the U.S. Congress regarding the serious inequity that exists between the domestic sheep industry and that of the European Union (EU) regarding federal subsidies and import protection. With $2 billion in annual subsidies to European sheep farmers and a strict tariff rate quota that efficiently caps imports of lamb meat, there is no question that sheep producers in the EU have a dramatic advantage compared to producers in the United States. These quotas have isolated this market from experiencing the same level of increased pressure from competitors as the U.S. market has experienced.
The United States has no barriers to imports of lamb meat, which is unlike Europe. Consequently, the United States continues to be the largest export market for Australian lamb, as it has been for decades, and a rapidly expanding market for New Zealand.
ASI?s request of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Portman also provided an extensive report developed by the Centre for International Economics of Canberra, Australia, detailing the European government provisions for sheep.
Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33