In preparation for the new year and new administration, the American Sheep Industry Association, on behalf of the nation’s 88,000 sheep producers, provided the 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

CALL TO ACTION — September 2016

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.

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