The American Lamb Board coordinated a meeting on Sept. 6 in Denver with a committee representing lamb packers, processors, feeders, producers and affiliated industry organizations including the American Sheep Industry Association and the National Lamb Feeders Association to discuss the current market challenges in the lamb industry. The committee was formed as a result of a request from the California Wool Growers Association to facilitate an open, solutions-based discussion about the issues throughout the entire chain of production that must be addressed to prevent them from occurring again.
The purpose of the meeting was to better understand industry challenges and identify strategies to reverse the decline in demand of American lamb and improve the system to keep the domestic lamb industry viable, competitive with imports and profitable in the future.
The meeting included presentations on market conditions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Livestock Market News and the Livestock Market Information Center, an overview of the success of the Certified Angus Beef branded program and an overview of the Texas Agriculture Marketing Research Center's lamb study.
The committee discussed a number of issues including the importance of the USDA lamb purchase program for short-term assistance in moving product through the system, the decline in consumer demand, extreme price volatility, concerns with lamb quality and consistency, the need for better market information and transparency and the importance of open communication, coordination and understanding across all sectors of the industry.
In conclusion, the committee agreed that the next step needs to be an industry assessment study to evaluate the issues and indentify strategies for improving the overall lamb industry structure to be more responsive and proactive to the needs of our customers and reverse the decline in demand for lamb in the United States. A sub-committee was formed to develop the detailed objectives and scope of an industry assessment study.