August 29, 2008
August 29, 2008 - In a show of support, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) provided comments on the proposed action plan for the 2008 and 2009 Dubois Interim Grazing Project at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service's U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES).
As the lead organization in communicating nationally with sheep farmers, ranchers and research officials, ASI depends on the USSES for its sheep-specific research. The USSES provides real-world results for the sheep industry, which is crucial since the research is conducted in a setting comparable to the range and forage lands utilized by sheep producers. As the vast majority of lamb and wool production in the United States is from operations utilizing rangeland grazing, the USSES facility provided by the USDA is unique in that it is the sole range station dedicated to sheep research.
The research programs at the USSES continue to encompass the economically important disciplines of genetics, reproduction, range science and range nutrition for sheep, which are necessary to help answer the industry's challenges and explore new opportunities. In addition to these major disciplines, the USSES also has significant collaborations that allow the animal and land resources to be used to study other industry priorities including health, disease and depredation, to name a few. The sheep that are housed at the USSES under various management and production systems are efficiently used in several studies and are a vital component of the multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary research program that serves as the flagship national sheep research station.
In review of the proposed action, all activities listed are appropriate and necessary for proper care of the animals and the agricultural production of the land. The grazing and movement of the sheep are fully appropriate as proposed. Additionally, the fence, trail and water maintenance actions, in our ASI's, are supported and necessary for sheep and to conduct the research. ASI recognizes all the practices from herding and camp tending to trucking and watering of the sheep, from fencing and trail repair, pest management and fire control to the lot feeding proposed as necessary and appropriate to the operation of the station and health and care of sheep.
ASI president Burdell Johnson (N.D.) said, "As the station is conducting an environmental analysis, our association believed it helpful to comment in the scoping process. Legal action from anti-livestock interests in the past year resulted in the necessity for USDA research stations to be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act."