As we move into the new year, it seems appropriate to review and reflect on the events from 2009 that helped to shape the sheep industry. Although it is difficult to choose just 10 top stories, the following is an attempt to do so.
EPA Rejects Animal Rights Groups Predator Control Petition. The efforts by animal rights groups to eliminate the use of Sodium Cyanide used in M-44s and Compound 1080 (sodium flouroacetate) used in Livestock Protection Collars failed. The Environmental Protection Agency told the petitioners that it does not believe cancellation is the appropriate response to their petition. Animal rights organizations failed to support any of their allegations of product misuse and threat to national security.
85 Percent Approval for American Lamb Promotions. By an astounding margin of 85.1 percent, the members of the U.S. sheep industry voted overwhelmingly to continue the deduction on sheep sales to support the marketing of American lamb.
American Goat Federation (AGF) Formed. The AGF was founded to build and define the industry as a unified front when working with processors as well as on legislative issues as that approach is more productive than having many single voices from one industry. The American Sheep Industry Association's (ASI) Goat Committee brought together an interim board of directors, and in August an officer team consisting of President Tom Boyer, Vice President Robin Saum and Secretary/Treasurer Marge Kilkelly was elected.
Lamb Purchase Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchased more than $1.97 million in lamb products as part of a $21 million program secured by ASI in the spring of 2009.
Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) Announced. The LIP was the first of five permanent Farm Service Agency-administered disaster assistance programs to financially assist sheep producers who had death losses in excess of the normal mortality due to adverse weather. ASI worked to include this program in the 2008 Farm Bill.
LRP-Lamb Program Augmented. Modifications to the Livestock Risk Protection-Lamb (LRP-Lamb) insurance product were approved. Some of the changes included a move to utilize the AMS formula carcass price series converted to a live basis by use of the dressing percent to establish coverage; the addition of a 20-week endorsement; and adding Washington to the list of pilot states.
ASI Highlighted on Profile Series. Targeted grazing utilizing sheep was showcased by the award-winning television series, The Profile Series, and aired on the Discovery Channel.
Lamb Carcass Instrument Grading Begins. The lamb carcass instrument evaluation study to augment the assessment currently being conducted by USDA meat graders was kicked off. The video image analysis technology will provide exacting precision, accuracy and uniformity in assessing factors that can be used to determine the value of each carcass.
Gray Wolves Delisted. Wolves in parts of the northern Rockies and the Great Lakes region came off the endangered species list. Officials said the population of gray wolves in these areas had recovered and was large enough to survive on its own. However, wolves in Wyoming remained listed and populations in the Great Lakes region were later re-listed.
CIDR for Sheep Approved. The Food and Drug administration approved the EAZI-Breed Controlled Intravaginal Drug Release (CIDR) sheep insert for induction of estrus in ewes during seasonal anestrus. The progesterone CIDR is a steroid hormone that allows out-of-season breeding in sheep.
U.S. Endurance Shearing Record Set. Two American shearers set a record for endurance sheep shearing by shearing for 24 hours straight. Doug Rathke sheared a total of 607 sheep and Gavin McKerrow sheared 487 sheep.
Wool Military Contracts Awarded. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia issued two purchase orders to Burlington Industries. The first called for the production of 105,000 linear yards of Marine Corps khaki, polyester/wool, tropical fabric valued at $1.2 million. The second called for 250,500 yards of U.S. Air Force blue, polyester/wool, serge fabric valued at $3.2 million. The fabric for both orders will require approximately 98,000 pounds of clean grade 64s U.S. wool. Two purchase orders for Navy men's and women's overcoats (peacoats) against an existing contract were also awarded to Sterlingwear of Boston. The orders called for the manufacture of 7,000 men's and 2,800 women's coats. The peacoat is made from 100-percent, 62s grade American wool, and the orders will require approximately 40,000 pounds of clean wool.