October 19, 2007
October 19, 2007 - The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) staff met with officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its Denver office on Tuesday. The key issue was the status of USDA's efforts to re-open U.S. slaughter-ewe trade with Mexico as the border has been closed since early September.
Officials mentioned that high-level meetings between the two governments were taking place in the near future, and they expressed their hope that sheep trade would be resolved soon.
"ASI has worked with the undersecretary's office and APHIS officials since August on this topic, and it appreciates their efforts to resolve the situation on Mexico's import regulations," commented Peter Orwick, ASI executive director.
As a follow up to the meeting, Charles Lambert, deputy undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs, notified ASI this morning, Oct. 19, that the word from Mexico is that its government plans to accept U.S. health certificates on slaughter ewes.
"We are pleased with this progress by USDA and encouraged that restoration of trade appears to be in sight. We will confirm in the coming days as exporters seek to move slaughter ewes," added Orwick.
During the visit, it was made clear that the implementation of mandatory price reporting is still months away with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) continuing to work through the rule-making process. The program will continue to operate under a voluntary system into 2008.
Also on the agenda with AMS was the discussion of the American Wool Trust programs. The agency has a cooperative agreement with ASI to improve wool quality, to increase international and domestic marketing and to disseminate production information.
Orwick expressed the appreciation of lamb producers and processors for USDA purchasing frozen lamb products that was used in federal food and nutrition programs, which assisted them in moving lamb last winter. ASI secured these funds in 2006. Throughout the program, USDA and lamb companies completed nearly $1.2 million in successful bids. The request of the lamb industry was relayed to department officials that consideration be given for additional funds in 2008 to keep the lamb market healthy.
In conclusion, Orwick thanked the USDA visitors for the agency's role in publishing market reports for sheep, lamb and wool. Not only is the market information important for the industry but now the reports are also used for the Livestock Risk Protection-Lamb insurance product.
USDA officials attending the meeting included Bruce Knight, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs; J. Burton Eller, Jr., deputy under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs; Lloyd Day, administrator for AMS; Craig Morris, livestock and seed programs; Brandon Beshears, confidential assistant to the under secretary; and Justin Ransom, international marketing specialist. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33