March 15, 2004
Mar/Apr 2004 -- U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Bill Hawks thrilled participants at the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) annual convention by announcing a one-year extension of the retained ewe-lamb program.
Secretary Hawks delivered the decision of USDA to fund the $18.85 million ewe-lamb retention program for fiscal year 2004 to the 300 participants at the industry-wide meeting.
The popular retained ewe-lamb program was part of the Lamb Meat Adjustment Assistance package (LMAAP) that ended in 2003. To assist the sheep industry, USDA offered a program to encourage ewe-lamb replacement and retention. Unfortunately, extreme drought conditions that reduced pasture carrying capacity and the lack of availability of forage meant many producers were reluctant or unable to participate in the program during the initial time period.
Guy Flora, ASI president, acknowledged the enormous value of this announcement.
"This initiative has been a priority for ASI. We believe we have stabilized the U.S. sheep breeding herd and now have an opportunity for its expansion it with the ewe-lamb program as a key component," said Flora. "We applaud the Administration's efforts to extend this program, which benefits the entire industry from farm to processor."
The industry thanks the following U.S. senators and representatives who strongly endorsed the extension. They include: Sens. Craig Thomas (R-WY), Max Baucus (D-MT), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Larry Craig (R-ID), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Thomas Daschle (D-SD), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Robert Bennett (R-UT),Tim Johnson (D-SD), James Jeffords (I-VT), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), George Allen (R-VA), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and John Cornyn (R-TX) along with Reps. Bill Thomas (R-CA), Henry Bonilla (R-TX), Charles Stenholm (D-TX), Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), Butch Otter (R-ID) and Mike Simpson (R-ID).
Additional Ewe-Lamb Retention Information
The retained ewe-lamb program announcement made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January will likely mean applications will be available at county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices in March. The agency must first complete the regulation and application review process before distributing program specifics.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) has requested that FSA officials provide a program that is as seamless as possible, running from the end of the 2003 program last July 31 through summer 2004.
"I anticipate that applications may be available at local FSA offices in mid-March with payment procedures following some weeks later," stated Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. "As we are beginning the shearing season, many producers are visiting their local office to file for a wool market loan deficiency payment (LDP) or unshorn pelt payment, so a number of inquiries about the ewe-lamb program are occurring."
On that note, Orwick added a reminder that producers file for their LDP before selling.