The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture reported a Farm Bill on Thursday, April 26. Programs included as priorities of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) are reauthorization of the marketing loan for wool and reauthorization of the Livestock Indemnity and Livestock Forage programs, all of which are key risk management programs for sheep producers.
The livestock indemnity program would provide a 65 percent value indemnification for sheep losses under the proposal, which is slightly less than currently but language has been included that would cover losses due to attacks if a species is federally introduced or regulated, including wolves. ASI also emphasized the need for the program to cover range-lambing events, the eligibility rules have been very difficult for producers to comply with in these first years of the Livestock Indemnity program.
Senator Max Baucus (Mont.) led the effort in the committee for sheep producers with these programs as well as for a Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program to strengthen sheep business, infrastructure and resource development with $1.5 million in funds.
An ASI spokesman reiterated the association's support of the committee action with Sen. Baucus on behalf of the 81,000 family farms and ranches that provide lamb and wool for America. Livestock insurance is also addressed in the Farm Bill and is another priority of ASI with the Livestock Risk Protection-Lamb insurance product.
In terms of international trade promotion, the bill extends for five years both the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program at current levels, which are $200 million and $34.5 million, respectively.
Leaders expect action by the full Senate to begin in May.
ASI and state association leaders from more than 20 states are meeting with agriculture leaders in Washington, D.C., the first week of May with the Farm Bill as one of the key topics.