July 15, 2004
By Judy Malone
July 15, 2004 -- American agriculture is continually counted, measured, priced, analyzed and reported to provide the facts needed by people working throughout this vast industry. On April 30, 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) published Livestock Operations-Final Estimates, 1998-2002. This bulletin presents final estimates, including revisions, made by NASS for total livestock operations during the years 1998 through 2002. Revisions were made after a thorough review of the original survey data and all additional data now available, including the 2002 Census of Agriculture. The estimates in this report are considered final and will not be revised again.
The revised estimate for the total number of operations with sheep or lambs in 2002 increased from the original assessment of 64,170 to 68,150 -- a rise of 4,020 operations. A large portion of the missing operations fell in the 1-99 head category. Of all sheep operations, including breeding sheep, 91.1 percent of all operations fell within the 1-99 head category, representing 30.1 percent of the sheep inventory; 7.3 percent of operations had 100-499 head, 23.5 percent of all sheep; and the remaining 1.6 percent were operations with 500 head or more, representing 45.4 percent of all sheep numbers.
Six states/regions recognized at least a 10-percent increase in number of total operations. They include: the "other states" category -- Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee - 34 percent; Idaho - 30 percent; Montana - 26.7 percent; Minnesota - 21.7 percent; Pennsylvania - 19.2 percent; and Oklahoma - 13 percent.
"The report indicates that there are more small sheep operations than originally reported," states Tom McDonnell, director of natural resources and policy for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). "USDA currently inventories about 16 percent of all sheep operations, with a heavy predominance on larger operations. Since this report showed that many smaller operations were overlooked, the industry is hopeful that future surveys will incorporate more inventories in states known to contain higher concentrations of smaller operations. This adjustment would ensure the reliability of sheep inventory and operation numbers."
These final estimates also showed some dramatic changes in the number of sheep in some states. For example, sheep numbers in Oklahoma increased from 60,000 to 70,000 head -- a 23.1 percent rise. The "other states" category, as well as Pennsylvania and Michigan, experienced increases of 21.6 percent, 14.5 percent and 13.3 percent, respectively. Two states, Arizona and Missouri, showed substantial decreases in total sheep numbers with 12.2 percent and 10.5 percent declines, respectively.
To access the NASS report, go to: http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/reports/general/sb/
on the Web and select SB1002 Livestock Operations-Final Estimates, 1998-2002.