ASI 2018 Farm Bill Conference Priorities
Please use the above brief to contact your members of Congress in August on the priorities sheep producers need in the final version of the farm bill. A conference committee has been named as of last night and we share the list in text below. Certainly any of your members that are on the conference need to hear from you. Any of your congressional delegation that serve on the House or Senate Agriculture committee need to hear from you on the key provisions for sheep.
Members of Congress will be home during the August break which provides a great opportunity for you to share the sheep priority with request they communicate our message to the conference committee. A letter from your state association to the delegation or agriculture committee member(s) would be powerful!
You can copy the attached brief to a letter and feel free to highlight one or two topics that are the most important to your state’s producers. Minor Use pharmaceutical development as an example is authorized and funded in the House version so ask the House language be approved in the final bill. We encourage all letters, certainly those from the west to highlight the Cheney amendment on grazing which is in the House farm bill but not the Senate version. Montana sheep producer John Helle testimony is linked here and in the brief with great explanation why we seriously need the Cheney language in the final farm bill. There are many ranches facing the same threat as Helle’s and the Cheney language will be a tremendous help.
Let me know of any questions or requests that we can help with and please share any feedback from your meetings and letters. Also note if you share the attached brief, Jim Richards contact information is included for the congressional office convenience. http://sheepusa.org/Issues_AsiPositions has more farm bill background and an easy way to gather the congressional contacts
Support AG Act - H.R. 4092
These are the latest support documents from the US House Judiciary Committee for your background and the directive approved this winter by the ASI board of Directors supporting the AG Act
Please share the directive with your Representative(s) this week and encourage their active support of the Ag Act.
Trump Administration a list of priorities they hope will be considered for immediate action. Burton Pfliger, ASI President and North Dakota sheep producer said America’s sheep producers are struggling amidst the last eight years of regulatory rampage.
“It is no secret that all of agriculture has been over-burdened with regulation and that has had a significant impact on our ability to compete globally,” said Pfliger. “From the current administration’s ‘waters of the United States’ rule to the restrictions on grazing permits in bighorn sheep habitat without compensation, there are a number of issues ripe for the new administration to tackle.”
America’s sheep producers are asking the Trump administration to look at ways the USDA, the Department of Interior and the Department of Labor can immediately take action to stabilize the rural economy. These actions include robust Wildlife Services predation management, supporting the work of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station and delisting wolves and grizzly bears under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, protecting the health of the domestic herd by withdrawing rules allowing imports from countries with a known history of Foot and Mouth Disease and publishing the final rule on Scrapie in sheep and goats are top priorities.
“The specific issues outlined in our letter are commonsense requests that would immediately benefit sheep producers and the local communities they support,” said Pfliger. “In addition to regulatory reform, we are hopeful President-elect Trump’s administration will focus on fair trade and re-opening markets lost to U.S. lamb. Japan remains closed to our producers and the United Kingdom and European Union maintain significant barriers to lamb trade. Prioritizing open access and free trade will expand our opportunities for export and allow our producers to capitalize on growing markets.”
The American Sheep Industry Association is hopeful the new administration will recognize the role of America’s sheep ranchers in managing private land and federal allotments to preserve habitat and natural resources to benefit wildlife and rural economies.
Domestic Sheep Grazing Within Bighorn Habitat
From October through the end of the year, Congress will be wrapping up Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations negotiations as they begin to pull together the omnibus appropriations bill. It is our hope that positive language regarding grazing allotments will be included in the FY 2017 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill and Conference Report, or their respective sections in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
CALL TO ACTION -- September 2016
Please send the attached letter and proposed language to your Members of the House of Representatives and Senate and Congressional Champions asking them to weigh in with House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in support of our request.
In addition, each Member of Congress and most Senators will be doing political events and town hall meetings over the next 45 days or so, please make every effort to attend those events and stress the importance of their support of our request.
Let us know of questions or requests as well as feedback from your members of Congress.
September 22, 2016, Alternative Allotment Letter to share with Congressional Delegates
2017 Proposed Language
PROPOSED LANGUAGE - Report Language Included in 2017 Senate Interior Appropriations Bill Regarding Bighorn Sheep and Vacant Grazing Allotments
Vacant Grazing Allotments – The Committee directs the Bureau to make vacant grazing allotments available to a holder of a grazing permit or lease when lands covered by the holder of the permit or lease are unusable because of drought or wildfire, or other condition beyond the control of the permittee.
Bighorn Sheep – The Committee directs the Service to complete Risk of Contact analyses using the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ occupied bighorn habitat maps, telemetry data, and recent bighorn observations. The Service is further directed to transparently and promptly share findings with other Federal land management agencies, State and local governments, State wildlife agencies, and State and Federal animal health professionals, including the Agricultural Research Service, permittees, and stakeholders. The Committee directs the Forest Service to engage the Agricultural Research Service and the aforementioned cooperating agencies and participants to ensure the best professional scientific understanding of where and if disease transmission occurs, and the degree of that risk, before making further management decisions that impact permittees. The Forest Service is further directed, if warranted, to use this base of information to swiftly identify and implement actions to resolve high-risk of disease transmission allotments, including if agreeable to the permittee, the relocation of domestic sheep to lower-risk allotments, with minimal disruption and displacement of permittees. The Forest Service is directed to provide bi-annual briefings to the Committee on its progress and adherence to the directives contained herein. Additionally, the Forest Service is directed to make vacant grazing lots available to a holder of a grazing permit or lease when lands covered by the holder of the permit or lease are unusable because of drought, wildfire, or agency action beyond the permittee’s control.
Additional background information is available at: Issues & Programs, Issues, Bighorn Sheep Conflict