Twenty-year record high prices for wool and a continued strong lamb market were reflected in the mood of members attending the American Sheep Industry Association's (ASI) executive board meeting in San Angelo, Texas, earlier this week.
The wool prices in the United States - January through September - averaged $2.38 per pound in 2008, lost more than one-third of its value in 2009 to $1.58 per pound, but then rebounded 64 percent to $2.59 per pound in 2010.
"The record-setting markets for lambs, wool, slaughter ewes and pelts ought to instill confidence that sheep are a good business opportunity," said Glen Fisher, sheep producer from Sonora, Texas, and ASI president.
He said the sheep markets weathered the recession better than any other livestock or poultry sector. The nontraditional market in this country continues to grow and reach farther into more areas of sheep production to fill the demand for lamb.
Equity Electronic Auction is setting records domestically, according to the latest market report released by Julie Stepanek Shiflett, Juniper Economic Consulting. Slaughter lamb prices at $150 per hundred weight in mid-September with a September average of $146/cwt. helped drive the market.
In addition to the online auction, a "phenomenal" market - from Muslims and Jews of all descents to Hispanics - has grown from a holiday-specific market to a year-round market, said Dave Johnson, vice president of marketing for sheep and veal at Equity.
"Perhaps the most underestimated market lies from Minneapolis to Detroit. One halal lamb and goat plant in northwestern Illinois reportedly processes 500 to 1,000 head per week," Johnson said.
Other topics discussed at the executive board meeting included continued follow-up of the establishment of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center board; the installation of the superwash equipment that will bring a washable wool process to the United States; and an update from the Rebuilding the U.S. Sheep Inventory Committee, which expects to increase future numbers through the small- and medium-size producers.
Reprinted in part from San Angelo Standard Times