February 2005 -- It was announced via a final rule in the Dec. 23, 2004, Federal Register that the application period for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency?s Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Payment Program (ELRRPP) would end Jan. 13, 2005.
The program was designed to encourage the replacement and retention of the ewe-lamb breeding stock in the United States. Severe drought conditions in 2001 and 2002 reduced ewe-lamb replacement for thousands of producers, who lacked adequate feed and water. The ELRRPP provides direct payments to producers at a rate of $18 per ewe retained in the base period from Aug. 1, 2003, through July 31, 2004.
Total payments under the program cannot exceed $18 million. In the event that eligible applications result in expenditures in excess of that amount, the FSA will prorate the payments to producers in order to stay within the $18 million.
The final rule did not state when producers could expect to receive their payments. However, at press time it appeared the second half of January was most likely.
In anticipation of the Jan. 28, 2005, USDA-National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) inventory reports, the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) published an article in which is stated that, ?improved pasture and range conditions and positive producer returns have likely increased producer interest in rebuilding cowherds and flocks.?
The LMIC went on to say that the total number of sheep and lambs will more than likely be slightly below a year ago. However, ?the breeding inventory is expected to be slightly above the 2004 inventory as producers have retained more ewe lambs compared to prior years.?
Preliminary LMIC estimates put the number of ewe lambs held for replacements at 3- to 4-percent higher than a year ago.