As you have read in the ASI Weekly newsletter in previous weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) is discontinuing or reducing a wide range of agricultural survey programs including the January Sheep Inventory Report -- the only annual report NASS provides for the sheep industry. Your help is needed to revive this report.
"We understand that the agricultural appropriations for this fiscal year, as approved by Congress this week in a spending package, includes increased funding intended to address the reports recently announced for elimination by NASS," said Peter Orwick, executive director for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). "NASS may now have the resources to continue the reports that receive the most industry support; therefore, the sheep industry needs to let NASS know how critical this annual report is to and support the reinstatement of its publication."
To ensure the return of the January Sheep Inventory Report, producers, state associations, processors, warehousemen and all others associated with the sheep industry are encouraged to take a moment to send an email to the Joseph Prusacki, NASS statistics division director, Joseph_Prusacki@nass.usda.gov, and to your state NASS director explaining the importance of this report to you and to the industry.
In 2011, the sheep industry experienced the most dramatic shift in breeding sheep numbers seen in the past 15 years. Because of the drought in Texas, projections indicate that hundreds of thousands of breeding sheep from the nation's largest sheep-producing state have been exported to farms as far east as Tennessee, north to Idaho and Wisconsin and west to California. The January 2012 report would help analysts document this large shift in sheep numbers and allow companies to make decisions on product marketing and lamb and wool procurement.
Additionally, in January of this year, the sheep industry launched a nationwide campaign to increase sheep numbers to meet the increased demand for lamb and wool. As ewe lambs are being retained to build up sheep herds and new farms join the sheep business, the annual sheep inventory report would also be important for state organizations as they provide services to this growing industry.
This week, Prusacki corresponded with Glen Fisher (Texas), ASI's past president, indicating NASS is looking at which reports it can bring back. While he indicated that he cannot make any guarantees, he did say that he would do what he could to have the Sheep and Goat Report reinstated.
Beyond the NASS sheep inventory report, the industry is not aware of an alternate source for the formulation of inventory reports. Please, take a moment to request every consideration be made to reinstate the annual sheep inventory report.