U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo announced on July 18 the agency's intent to make available up to $5 million to purchase lamb products for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) requested the lamb meat purchase earlier this summer to prompt stronger prices for lambs at the farm and ranch gate.
In its request letter to AMS, ASI stated that live lamb prices are below the cost of production and producers face the highest feed costs in years.
"The market has not yet recovered to the cost of production for America's sheep producers and ranchers. This $5 million lamb buy will help strengthen feeder and slaughter lamb prices," says ASI President Clint Krebs. "ASI greatly appreciates AMS's announcement of a $5 million supplemental lamb purchase."
"The domestic lamb industry faces various market challenges. Increased imports, weather problems and excess supply have added new pressures on the industry," says Alonzo. "This purchase will help relieve pressure on American lamb producers and will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of USDA's nutrition program."
As USDA completed its deliveries from the 2012 lamb buy in June, this announcement is very helpful to provide more movement in the lamb meat system ahead of the traditional large shipments of feeder lambs in the fall.
AMS purchases only 100-percent domestic, high-quality food products each year to support the National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.