June 3, 2011
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will suspend its July Sheep and Goats Inventory survey. The survey is part of a biannual program with the results published annually in January and July. Going forward, NASS will conduct only the January edition of the survey.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) received word of this change in mid-May and expressed disappointment in this decision since relying on one inventory report per year makes analyses and forecasting difficult.
The industry responded to NASS requesting that it look for ways to enhance the data collection procedures for the annual January report and try to capture more of the inventory that comprises the nontraditional sector of the market.
In 2010, ASI commissioned the report Nontraditional Lamb Market in the United States: Characteristics and Marketing Strategies. The findings showed that approximately 1.2 million lambs were marketed through this nontraditional path and were not accounted for in federally inspected slaughter. Some of these lambs appear in commercial slaughter channels, yet many are direct off-the-farm and locally slaughtered. In looking at these numbers and observing sale patterns, it is believed that there is a significant portion of the national breeding flock that is also outside what has historically been accounted for in the NASS January inventory report.
It is the hope of the industry that NASS will reconsider the publication of the July Sheep and Goat Inventory report in the future.
A notice in the Federal Register
, providing detailed information about the program suspension, will soon be available.