"We have received feedback from leaders in two states telling us that their state statistician has informed them the sheep inventory report is again on the schedule to be published in the first quarter of 2012," stated Peter Orwick, executive director for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). "No formal announcement has been made by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); however, communication from state officials is sufficient for our plans to receive the report in 2012."
Earlier this year, the USDA's National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS) announced it was discontinuing the January Sheep Inventory Report for the midyear report and then announced eliminating annual sheep reports altogether. The sheep inventory count has been conducted since the 1860s.
"Many industry advocates, at ASI's request, contacted congressional appropriators and USDA officials explaining the importance of the report to the industry," continued Orwick. "We appreciate Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) from the Appropriations Committee for working with us this fall to secure funding and prioritization to reverse the department's decision on sheep."
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 will 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 flocks and new farms join the sheep business, the annual sheep inventory report will be important for state organizations as they provide services to this growing industry.