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Spring Trip Successful for American Sheep Industry

Benny Cox, ASI President

Just back from the ASI Spring Trip to Washington, D.C., and it was a record year with more than 80 folks from around the United States in attendance. The ASI Executive Board went in a day early to have the winter follow-up meeting after convention.

This meeting is where committee assignments or changes are made for the rest of the year. There is a review of convention results and also a presentation of finances. Of course, not much has changed since convention on finances. We have had the executive board meeting in conjunction with the legislative trip for the past few years to help save money on travel, and most of the board members stay for agency and congressional visits the next two days.

Before we go to our legislative visits, we spend a half day visiting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a group. This year we had six different representatives come and talk with us, and then listen to our concerns after each speaker. Those officials were:

• Alecia Naugle, Associate Deputy Administrator Wildlife Services, APHIS;

• Robert MacGregor, Senior Policy Advisor, NRE (Natural Resources);

• Allen Rowley, Director, Rangelands Management & Vegetation Ecology, USFS;

• Jason Hafemeister, Secretary`s Trade Council, TFAA;

• Jeff Silverstein, Office of National Programs, ARS;

• Sharon Lauritsen, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Ag Affairs and Commodity policy, USTR.

We are also briefed by our lobbyist firm officials on how to approach the lawmakers with our talking point handouts. This year our major talking points were:

• National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (animal drugs for minor uses and minor species);

• Electronic Logging Device Mandate (continued exemption for livestock haulers);

• Wool and sheepskins and the need to include them in any new Market Facilitation Payments;

• Mandatory Price Reporting (reauthorization this September);

• International Trade Priorities (extreme caution with the European Union/United Kingdom as we don’t need their Lamb exports, and raw wool and pelts with China – which is our largest export market);

As you can see we had plenty to talk about with additional time on predation, bighorn sheep, wild horses, grizzlies, M-44s, allotments being taken away, H-2A. You name it, we tried to cover it all where we thought it would do the best.

I was in a meeting with Janet Bucknall – Deputy Administrator of Wildlife Services – for more than an hour one-on-one, and I can assure you she is good for our industry. Janet is experienced and understands our positions. She will work for the best deal in our interest every time. A large group of us met with the Environmental Protection Agency folks and I was pleased with their concerns for our industry as well. EPA is one of the groups responsible for the M-44 still being one of our tools. We certainly registered our thanks to them for that.

As you can see, ASI staff and a lot of concerned individual members carry forward our message to D.C. every year. If all those people did not carry out that industry message, all the lawmakers would here is the other side’s view. So, I send out a THANK YOU to all that attended.

Y`all keep on doing what you do best and I will see you on down the road.

Early 2020 Slaughter Lamb Prices Saw Four-Year High

JULIE STEPANEK SHIFLETT, PH.D.
Juniper Economic Consulting

Slaughter lamb prices saw a four-year high in January and February. Slaughter lamb prices typically strengthen toward Easter, but often don’t start at the high levels we’ve seen this year. Prices historically look like an inverted ‘U’ during the year – they climb in January to June and then decline through the remainder of the year. It is uncertain whether the current hot market will strengthen further in the next few months.

Slaughter lamb prices in formula trade averaged $297.24 per cwt. on a carcass basis in February, up 2 percent monthly and up 13 percent year-on-year. Carcass weights inched up 2 percent to
81 lbs. in February. On a live-equivalent basis, slaughter lamb prices averaged $147.53 per cwt.

Live, negotiated slaughter lambs averaged $161.27 per cwt. in February, up 5 percent monthly and up 22 percent year-on-year. Harvest weights averaged 148 lbs., down 2 percent monthly and down 9 percent year-on-year.

 

Pelts Remained Depressed

The highest quality pelt – unshorn supreme – ranged from -$3.00 to $2.92 per piece in February. While the low end remained steady with January, the high-end saw a 72 percent lift from $1.70 per piece in January.

At the ASI Annual Convention in January, the Nugget Company explained why lambskin demand has been depressed. Important markets of China, Russia and Europe have been relatively weak. Warmer winters in these economies have also hurt sales. Further, the animal rights movement is affecting lambskin sales. The development of low-cost synthetics such as vegan leather (made from polyurethane) is hurting the industry. Lastly, the cost of producing shearling leather has been increasing.

 

Commercial Feeder Prices Up

Commercial feeder lamb prices at auction in Sioux Falls, S.D., averaged $225 per cwt. in February, down 4 percent monthly and up 20 percent year-on-year. In February, 1,700 head of feeder lambs in direct trade were sold out of California at 130 lbs. for $156.50 per cwt.

Commercial feeder lamb prices continued to see pronounced seasonality in prices in 2019: highest around March and then lower from August through October. Feeder prices are the lowest during late summer and fall because that is when available supplies are the largest as spring-born lambs head to feedlots.

There is reporting that American lamb industry seasonality causes inefficiencies and market volatility (American Lamb Board, 2018). This volatility might also depress producer returns. Most American lambs are born during the spring and thus, most producers sell feeder lambs during the lowest time of the year, when all supplies head to market, creating a glut.

According to David Anderson, professor and extension economist at Texas A&M University, the introduction of aseasonal breeding – to produce out-of-season lambs – might not be profitable. Aseasonal breeding is biologically possible, but the economics also have to make sense: It has to be profitable to individual producers. Furthermore, markets work. Markets can smooth out seasonality using imports, stocks and lamb feeding (1/23/20).

 

Meat Market Higher

In February, the wholesale composite averaged $423.08 per cwt., up 1 percent monthly and up 12 percent year-on-year. The leg, trotter-off, saw the sharpest gain monthly among primals, up 12 percent monthly to $436.57 per cwt. The loin, trimmed 4×4, also was up, 2 percent monthly to $534.54 per cwt. The rack and shoulder were lower monthly in February. The 8-rib rack, medium fell 1 percent to $877.68 per cwt. and the shoulder, square-cut, averaged $326.07 per cwt., down only slightly for the month.

The shoulder continued its unprecedented climb in February, up 18 percent year-on-year. The leg was also up, 12 percent higher year-on-year. The loin lost 3 percent in February year-on-year. The rack was down 2 percent annually.

 

Domestic Production and Trade

In January and February, total estimated lamb harvest was 303,124 head, down 1 percent year-on-year. Total estimated lamb production was 14.8 million lbs., down 3 percent year-on-year.
Lamb supplies are tighter and more current with less back fat present. In January, the percent of lambs yield grading 4s and 5s was 26 percent. This is 24-percent lower than January 2019, when 4s and 5s totaled 34 percent of all lambs graded.

Lamb and mutton in cold storage averaged 36.9 million lbs. at the beginning of February, up 6 percent monthly and down 4 percent year-on-year.

Available supplies continue to contract. The numbers of lambs reported in Colorado feedlots was 117,201 head on March 1, down 8 percent monthly and down 3 percent year-on-year. March’s Colorado feedlot inventory was 19 percent lower than March’s five-year average for the month, which means it was down more than 27,000 head. Based on slaughter price averages in 2018 and 2019, this shortfall of 27,000 head is a loss in gross profit of about $6 million to feeders and producers.

In 2019, Australian lamb imports totaled 162.0 million lbs., up 8 percent year-on-year. New Zealand imports were up 3 percent to 54.7 million lbs. and total lamb imports were up 6 percent to 218.5 million lbs.

In 2019, lamb and mutton exports fell 2 percent year-on-year to 5.7 million lbs. Lamb exports were off by 6 percent to 738,000 lbs. and mutton imports were down 1 percent to 5.0 million lbs. Mexico was the largest export market by volume while El Salvador was the second largest export market.

 

Forecasts

According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center, slaughter lamb harvest in the second quarter could see a sharp contraction compared to last year. Harvest could be down 8 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, dressed weights could be down 1 percent from a year ago at 64 lbs. and thus, production could be off 9 percent from last spring at 37 million lbs.

Forecasts for tight supplies could mean higher feeder lamb prices, but not necessarily higher for the slaughter lamb market. Imports and freezer inventories could temper slaughter-lamb price gains. LMIC forecasted that slaughter lamb prices could be $288 to $293 per cwt. in the second quarter, down 0.6 percent year-on-year. Sixty- to 90-lb. feeder lamb prices could average $189 to $194 per cwt., up 10 percent.

According to Anderson, higher lamb prices are expected this year (1/23/20). However, high levels of cold storage need to come down. Imports remain a big question in market dynamics. Australia’s lamb supplies are challenged by fires, drought and perhaps some flock rebuilding. Therefore, if there is product to export, the United States will remain an attractive destination, but volumes and prices will likely continue to be volatile.

In the next couple of years, LMIC forecasts a slow-down in lamb and mutton imports. In spite of high lamb prices in Australia, a persistent drought in some regions coupled with the devastating loss of domestic animals during the wildfires have challenged flock rebuilding efforts and availability of supply might not yet catch up with the industry.

According to Meat & Livestock Australia’s February 2020 forecast, sheep slaughter is forecast to decline 22 percent to 7.2 million head in 2020 and lamb slaughter is anticipated to decline to 21 million head, which is 8 percent below the pre-drought peak in 2016. Heavier harvest weights will offset this decline due to “supplementary feeding or lot feeding lambs, improved pasture availability and strong price incentives to feed lambs to heavier finished weights.”

 

The Coronavirus Question

As of this writing, there was great uncertainty to the future of the virus. We are on a precipice, which will unfold by the time this article is published. Will consumer spending slow significantly, in which case a full-scale recession could ensue? Or, has coronavirus peaked in the United States, in which case we will see little economic downturn? In either case, some supply chains will be disrupted. The month of March will be fraught with uncertainty which means some investments suspended. Lamb sales at foodservice will likely slow if “social distancing” gains momentum. Wool will likely be sheared and stored, not marketed. A United States recession is not probable, but getting more likely.

Reduced demand by China for Australian lamb and mutton could potentially send more product to the United States at competitive prices. However, by early March, Australian lamb exports began to ship again to China. Fletcher International Exports – accounting for about 25 percent of Australia’s sheepmeat exports to China – reported that “everything just stopped for a few weeks – the ports and banks were closed,” (Financial Review, 3/2/20). “This is significant in a county that imports hundreds of tons of lamb worth millions of dollars every week.”

 

Wool Demand Uncertain

Buoyed by tight supplies and growing economic growth during the last 10 years, the wool market now faces an uncertain future. The market took a sharp correction last fall, but then regained some of its momentum. The Coronavirus will likely only have a temporary setback for the markets, but the larger question is the slowdown in economic growth that is occurring across developed economies. Before the coronavirus hit, China’s economy was slowing, as have European and Japanese growth.

During the first week of March, Australian wool auctions were canceled due to a cyber attract on servers that provide the software for wool auction sales. In the second week of March, sales resumed and brought with it two weeks’ worth of supply. In general, sales went well, “in spite of global health and general market uncertainty”, likely due to low wool supplies generally, (The Schneider Group, 3/6/20).

In the second week of March, the Australian Eastern Market Indicator averaged Australian 1,562 cents per kg clean or U.S. 1,034 US cents per kg ($4.69 per lb. U.S.). Prices were down 22 percent year-on-year in Australian dollars and down 27 percent year-on-year in U.S. dollars.

This spring, most American wool will add to the already-high carryover levels from 2019. Exported wool will likely slow this season. Demand from China is low and reportedly a significant share of global shipping capacity lays idle. Furthermore, it is unlikely that China will be able to meet its import commitments to the United States government of American agricultural products this year.

There is some demand for finer wools, however, finer than 24 micron. By contrast, coarser wools still face some marketing challenges. Fine wools do face some price headwinds due to higher price levels and higher price volatility, but the demand is there, particularly for lower-cost blends. Production of finer wools continues in Australia – particularly 16 to 20 micron – as supplies of coarser wools contract.

Fine wools tell a story that consumers want to hear. They are light-weight fabrics, elastic, manage moisture, are easy-care and produced from a sustainable source, according to Goetz Giebel, president of Interwoollabs (Goetz Giebel, G., ASI Sheep Convention, 1/23/20). Giebel, an ASI wool consultant, concluded his talk at the ASI Annual Convention, “Wool can develop further into a specialized niche, for well-informed consumers appreciating the product´s functionality and sustainable values at higher cost,” (1/23/20).

Ag Marketing Service Looking for Additional Wool Sale Info

While ASI has advocated for changes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wool Loan Deficiency Program, one key factor in making the program work for producers is still missing: wool sale information.

“I’ve been at this for five years, and the wool industry is one of the toughest to crack,” said Chris Dias with the Agricultural Marketing Service. “But I came from the sheep industry, and I want to see it succeed, so I’m going to keep working at it.”

While Dias estimates 15 to 18 million pounds of American wool is sold each year, he said AMS is lucky if it receives price information on three to four million pounds.

“Participation is a key part of this program, and unfortunately we just haven’t had the participation we need to develop consistent price reports.”

ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick said there’s no doubt increased information can have an impact.

“Wool warehouses and traders made a renewed effort in mid-2019 with reports to Chris, and the updated info moved the wool loan rates 15 cents grease – a rate that had been static for years,” Orwick said. “More movement could be possible with more sale data. Some wools are in storage now, so that is another limit on sale data. This means we need to be more aggressive with the sales that are transacted.”

ASI and AMS have teamed up this spring to try and tackle that challenge. While AMS has plans to more aggressively pursue sale reports – especially in the East and Midwest – ASI has also provided the agency with a list of shearers who often buy the wool they are shearing to sell in combined lots from a number of farms and ranches.

“That’s something we haven’t really looked into before because we just didn’t have those contacts,” Dias said. “With ASI’s help, we’re reaching out to those people first by email and then by phone when necessary to see if we can get some valuable information from them.”

Much like the problems encountered in lamb price reporting, confidentiality issues are a major concern in the relatively small wool industry.

“I have one warehouse that would give me information on every pound of wool it buys, but because of where it’s located I would be singling it out in price reporting. We’ve got to look at some different ways of handling reporting that can help us eliminate those issues.”

Getting reports on every wool sale would be the easiest way to solve the problem, but Dias won’t be holding his breath on that possibility.

“The wool industry is one of those areas where everyone knows what’s going on, but they don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “Part of my job is to develop a relationship with people in the industry so that they are more comfortable talking about it. No one wants to tell the government how much money they made, but I encourage producers just to give me a call (970-353-9750) and let’s talk. If we can do that, then we can find a way to help everyone involved in the industry.”

In the meantime, Dias is looking at alternative reporting methods that can still help the industry. Such options have included biweekly or monthly reports, and even a year-to-date average. But the only option that seems viable at this point is the two-week report.

Prices for American wool are based on the Australian market – with American prices usually bringing 80 to 90 percent of Australian wool – which can swing drastically in the course of four weeks. The two-week option offers the opportunity to collect more data while not having to factor in drastic price fluctuations.

“What producers need to realize is that we’re doing this to try and benefit their industry,” Dias said. “If they want a Wool LDP product that’s really going to make a difference for the industry, then getting these reports is the key.”

ASI Soliciting Nominations for Lamb Board, Sheep Center

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in March that it is accepting nominations to serve on the American Lamb Board and the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center beginning in 2021.

ASI is a certified nominating organization for both ALB and NSIIC, and therefore is soliciting nominations for each of the open positions to submit to USDA for approval. The deadline to submit nominations to ASI is April 24. USDA requires two nominations for each vacant position.

The American Lamb Board has five openings for three-year terms that will begin in February 2021: a producer with 100 or less lambs; a producer with more than 500 lambs; a feeder with less than 5,000 lambs; a first handler; and a seedstock producer.

Any American producer, feeder, first handler or seedstock producer who owns or purchases lambs may be considered for nomination. To satisfy the requirements of the Lamb Promotion and Research Order, either the producer with 100 lambs or less or the producer with more than 500 lambs must be from Region 1.

The 13-member American Lamb Board is industry-funded and supports the national marketing and promotion of sheep and sheep products.

Click Here to learn more.

The NSIIC board of directors has three openings. There are two vacancies for sheep producers and one vacancy for a person with expertise in marketing.

The board of directors comprises seven voting members and two non-voting members. Voting members include four active sheep producers, two members with expertise in finance and management and one member with expertise in lamb or wool product marketing. Non-voting members include USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

Click Here to learn more.

Producers from 25 States Participate in Spring Trip

CHASE ADAMS
ASI Senior Policy & Information Director

More than 80 members of the American Sheep Industry Association – representing 25 state affiliates – gathered in Washington, D.C., in early March for the annual Spring Trip to meet with federal officials and their congressional representatives.

The meeting formally began on Tuesday with an ASI informational briefing and agency visits. Those in attendance were hosted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a full agenda of USDA speakers and joined by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Key topics included the trade situation with China and the need for direct assistance for American wool and sheepskins, Wildlife Services, Forest Service grazing allotments and rangeland management, and the importance of research. In addition, as the administration has announced a trade agreement with the United Kingdom as one of its priorities, ASI members were able to express to the USTR their concerns about the impact that bringing lamb in from highly subsidized nations would have on the domestic market.

While some took the afternoon to begin their visits to the Hill, many continued the agency focus with a meeting at the Environmental Protection Agency. At EPA, sheep producers heard about the agency’s progress on rewriting and implementing the Waters of the United States Rule, discussed predator control issues and future engagement opportunities for agriculture.

From there, many headed to the Department of Interior for a meeting with the secretary’s office to focus on grazing on Bureau of Land Management lands, issues with predation by species protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the agency’s efforts to celebrate ESA successes by delisting recovered species.

The meeting with Interior also proved a great opportunity to engage with the department regarding the recent announcement of a plan by Interior to provide USDA Wildlife Services with additional funding to hire bear conflict specialists in Montana. This was a tremendous step in the right direction to address issues producers and communities are facing from these species and came as a result of many years of working closely with ASI and the Montana Wool Growers Association.

“Our time with the agencies is always appreciated and we sincerely thank secretaries Perdue and Bernhardt, as well as Administrator Wheeler for making their staff available to the industry,” said Benny Cox, ASI President. “The chance to hear about and give feedback on programs the sheep industry relies on is a huge part of this trip. This year, we had a lot on the agenda to accomplish and a lot of wins to celebrate.

“We have heard clearly from sheep producers on the impact that Chinese tariffs have had on their ability to market wool and sheepskins. This has been a tough time for many in our industry and we were able to advocate vigorously for assistance with the USDA and USTR,” Cox continued. “We were also pleased to be able to share our appreciation for the administration’s support of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, the continued efforts to defend predator control, and additional assistance to handle issues with grizzlies in Montana.”

Following the agency visits, ASI members took to the Hill on Wednesday to visit directly with their congressional representatives and staffs in the U.S. House and Senate. For most, trade issues topped the list of priorities, namely ensuring wool and sheepskins are included in any future trade adjustment assistance program in the coming months. In addition, sheep producers took the opportunity to discuss the importance of livestock transportation and animal care concerns in response to the Electronic Logging Mandate, the importance of a viable guest herder program under special procedures, increased funding to hire additional staff at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, ensuring the continued full implementation of the scrapie program, supporting Wildlife Services, and the continuation of our bighorn sheep report language directing the land management agencies to work with the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

“I cannot overstate the importance of ensuring legislators hear directly from sheep producers on the issues that affect them the most,” said Cox. “This is a critical trip for the future of the sheep industry, and I thank the many sheep producers from 25 states who took time from their operations to join us in Washington, D.C.”

Embracing the Sustainability Conversation

GUEST COLUMN
CHELSEA DINTERMAN
Animal Ag Alliance

How will we feed 10 billion people by 2050? It’s a question that was asked many times throughout the animal science courses of my undergrad. My fellow students had some go to answers: “improve technology” or “improve production practices,” but the most popular answer by far was “find ways to be more sustainable.”

Sustainability has been a hot topic in the news during the past few years, but for farmers, ranchers and the animal agriculture community as a whole, it’s nothing new. The animal agriculture community has continuously worked to do more while using fewer resources.

In the past 50 years, remarkable strides have been made in every facet of the industry. For example, in 2017, the beef industry used 19 percent less feed, 33 percent less land and 12 percent less water to produce a pound of beef than in 1977. Similarly, the pork industry uses 75.9 percent less land, 25.1 percent less water and has a 7.7 percent smaller carbon footprint than in 1960.
Despite significant advancements, animal activist groups would have you believe animal agriculture is a major driver of climate change. In the age of social media, these groups are experts in getting their message heard – making a relatively small voice one of the loudest.

These groups spread misinformation and use fear mongering to capitalize on the public’s concern about the environment as a way to convince people to take meat, poultry, milk and eggs off of their plates.

This negative connotation around the word “sustainability” can leave farmers and ranchers hesitant to embrace the ongoing dialogue, despite having spent decades working toward sustainable practices.

Farmers and ranchers need to embrace this conversation and continue to be transparent about how farms look and operate today and most importantly, why. American farmers and ranchers lead the world in efficient practices that deliver unmatched nutrition while conserving natural resources and decreasing environmental impact.

We need to share and explain those practices to consumers, restaurant/retail brand leaders and other influencers. When consumers have questions, the answers should come straight from the source. But if no one shares what they do on the farm, can we blame people for believing the misinformation animal activist groups share?

The sustainability question gives producers an opening to share the improvements being made on the farm. We’re seeing more and more consumers make mindful buying decisions. They’re no longer buying just for taste, but also considering environmental impact and animal welfare.

Without joining the sustainability conversation, farmers and ranchers might find animal protein products being left off consumers’ plates due to confusion about their role in a healthy, balanced and sustainable diet.

Once a conversation is started, simple facts can have a powerful impact. Many consumers may not know that a gallon of milk takes 31 percent less water, 21 percent less land and a 20 percent smaller carbon footprint than it did in 2008.

Those are substantial numbers, and sharing them might be the difference between animal protein products being put in the cart instead of left on the shelf.

EPA Announces New Method for ESA Pesticide Reviews

In early March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new method for conducting biological evaluations under the Endangered Species Act to assure that pesticide registration review actions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act do not jeopardize endangered species.

The updated method ensures that – when available – the agency will use high-quality historical data that reflects where and how certain pesticides are used.

“Responsible pesticide use is an essential tool for managing America’s farmland,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA’s improved methodology will better protect and promote the recovery of endangered species while ensuring pesticide registration review decisions are conducted in a timely, transparent manner and are based on the best available science. I want to thank our federal partners for working together to implement the 2018 Farm Bill and for helping EPA bring our pesticide assessment process into the 21st Century.”

ESA is a proven and critical tool for ensuring the recovery and protection of the nation’s most vulnerable species and habitats.

However, for decades EPA’s approach for assessing pesticide risks to endangered species resulted in costly, time-consuming litigation and delays in pesticide registration decision making.
EPA’s new “Revised Method for National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluations of Conventional Pesticides” (Revised Method) will better protect and promote the recovery of endangered species while ensuring pesticide registration review decisions are conducted in a timely, transparent manner and based on the best available science.

With this action, EPA is fulfilling its commitment under the 2018 Farm Bill to ensure that pesticides can continue to be used safely with minimal impacts to threatened and endangered species.
“The required review of crop protection chemicals under the Endangered Species Act is an issue that has frustrated America’s farmers, ranchers and producers for far too long. Under President Trump’s leadership, we are cutting the red tape to unleash the full potential of American agriculture,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “I am proud to join forces with my colleagues as we move forward on a protocol to allow the tools farmers need to feed, fuel, and clothe this nation and the world to reach market while also ensuring our environment is protected.”

“The Revised Method is an improved framework for Endangered Species Act pesticide consultations,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. “By incorporating actual pesticide usage data into these assessments, they will be accurate and legally defensible. We look forward to working with the EPA to apply this framework and review public comment on the draft carbaryl and methomyl biological evaluations.”

“As EPA’s finalized method of conducting evaluations demonstrates, the whole-of-government approach to regulatory reform is bearing fruit,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “Actual use of pesticides is an important factor to consider as we work to protect endangered species. The department looks forward to working closely with our public and private partners to ensure that the rules are good for both our economy and our environment.”

“Under President Trump’s leadership, the administration is committed to supporting agricultural communities and environmental protection,” said CEQ Chairman Mary B. Neumayr. “Since 2017, CEQ has worked collaboratively with EPA, DOI, USDA, and DOC to improve the ESA pesticide consultation process and today’s announcement reflects the federal government’s commitment to a process that promotes timely and effective decision making and advances rural prosperity.”

The final Revised Method incorporates high-quality pesticide usage data into the agency’s biological evaluation process for the first time and was informed by input from a wide range of stakeholders, including states, tribes, environmental NGOs and agricultural stakeholders.

In conjunction with the announcement, EPA is also releasing for public comment draft BEs for the insecticides carbaryl and methomyl which were conducted using the final Revised Method. EPA will accept public comment on the draft BEs for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

After carefully considering public comments, EPA will finalize the BEs. If the agency determines a pesticide might affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the agency will consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The services will then issue a biological opinion to determine if the population of a species would be adversely impacted and, if so, propose ways to reduce risks.

To view the draft BEs for carbaryl and methomyl, final Revised Method document and learn more about how EPA protects endangered species from pesticides, visit EPA.gov/endangered-species.

Obituaries

Charles “Chuck” Dallas, 1955-2020

Charles A. “Chuck” Dallas, 64, of Wilsall, Mont., and longtime member of the Ringling 5, passed away on Feb. 21, 2020.

Chuck was born June 18, 1955, to Marvin Dallas and Rosella (McElhaney) Hegre. He grew up on the family farm at Canyon Creek and while there he attended a one classroom school up until sixth grade. His dad passed away in 1964 from Hodgkin’s Disease, and Rosie began working at the state legislature in Helena, Mont. In 1968, Chuck moved to Wilsall after Rosie remarried.

He graduated Wilsall High School in 1973 and headed to Montana State University–Bozeman where he graduated with a finance degree in 1977. Chuck met Cindy Carr at a party he hosted during this time. They married in Wilsall on Sept. 23, 1977.

In May of 1983, they purchased their own piece of property in Wilsall and settled in – starting with only a single-wide trailer. Piece by piece, board by board, Chuck started building each barn, shop and an addition to the house. They had also begun a family that would grow to three girls, each born 20 months apart. Mardy Lynn was born January 1981, Cassie Michael in 1982 and Cody Anna in 1984.

Chuck and Cindy shared a passion for sheep, and they started their own registered Targhee sheep flock with six ewes they purchased from MSU in 1978. He started working on shearing crews with his father-in-law, Jim Carr, in 1985. Chuck saw the need for a better way to handle wool and later started training to become a Level IV wool classer, which was his favorite job. He traveled throughout Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

Chuck steadily built the family flock up to 500 head. They started summering sheep with Paugh Inc., then in Bozeman eating leafy spurge in the early 1990s. That led to a couple of summers of sheep herding himself. He started selling rams at the Miles City Ram Sale in 1996 and never missed a Montana Wool Growers Association Convention.

He was also one of the original members of the Ringling 5 which started in 1977. Music was one of his passions. He had a lifetime of memories traveling the country from all corners of Montana to Canada, New York, and Florida, entertaining all types of crowds.

Chuck is survived by his wife, Cindy; daughters Mardy (Karl) Rutledge, their sons Kolt and Kash; Cassie (Glenn) Owens, their kids Dallas and Thomas; and Cody Dallas; his brother, Don Dallas, and sister, Bonnie Dallas; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

 

Joseph “Joe” Harper, 1941-2020

Joseph “Joe” Oliver Harper, age 78 of Seneca Rocks, W.V., passed away on Feb. 19, 2020, at Grant Memorial Hospital with his wife, Carolyn, and other family members and friends by his side.

Joe was born in Clarksburg, W.V., on Sept. 19, 1941, to the late Bardon H. “Buck” Harper and E. Leone Oliver Harper. Joe was a 4-H All Star who graduated from Circleville High School and attended one year of post-graduate work at Greenbrier Military School. He graduated from West Virginia University where he earned both his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Animal Science

He attended Ohio State University in Veterinary Medicine before spending four and a half years working in the meat industry in the upper Mid-West. Joe returned to Seneca Rocks to run the family farms as its eighth generation owner. His favorite animals were sheep and he was the largest sheep producer in the state of West Virginia. He served as a member of the American Lamb Board for two terms from 2002 to 2008. In 2010, he received the highest award given by the American Sheep Industry Association – the McClure Silver Ram Award. He was enshrined into the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame and was a Distinguished Alumnus of the West Virginia University School of Agriculture.

Joe served two years as president of the West Virginia Sheep Industry Development Association. He served nine years on the USDA Wildlife Services Advisory Committee. Nationally, he chaired the American Farm Bureau Sheep Advisory Committee for two terms, and internationally, he conducted a speaking tour throughout Nova Scotia on sheep management.

He was a member of the Onego-Seneca Rocks United Methodist Church, a member of Franklin Lodge #144 AF & AM, a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason and a Shriner.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Carolyn Crites Harper; two sons, Matthew Bardon Harper and wife, Ashley, of Seneca Rocks, W.V., and Scott Joseph Harper and wife, Susan, of Drexel, Mo.; four grandchildren, Cali Harper, Cole Harper, Ava Harper and Eli Harper; a sister, Rosanne Harper Glover of Petersburg, W.V.; two brothers-in-law, John Crites and Dr. John Glover; three nieces, one nephew and their families; and several cousins. Also included is his special companion, his dog, Bo.

Around the States

CALIFORNA
Ram Sale Celebrates 100 Years

The California Wool Growers Association is hosting the 100th annual California Ram Sale on Saturday, April 18 at the Porterville Fairgrounds.

More than 500 rams including composite, Columbia, crossbred, Dorper, Merino, Hampshire, Rambouillet, Suffolk and white-faced rams will be offered from California, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho and Utah.

Ultrasound carcass measurements (i.e. loin eye area) and a Range Ram Index will be provided on all sale rams. The Range Ram Index utilizes ultrasound carcass data collected at the sale and will help to identify the potential genetic merit of those rams in passing superior genetic traits – such as larger loin eye area or heavier carcass weights – into producer flocks.

This years’ Ram Sale Trade Show will feature a variety of sheep health and equipment companies showcasing products developed to address sheep production, nutritional and health needs.
Ram Sale information – including the sale catalog, schedule, lodging information, directions and more – is available on the CWGA website at CaliforniaWoolGrowers.org.

The sale will begin with buyer check-in and a ram preview at 9 a.m. and the trade show will open at 9:30 a.m. A complimentary Buyer Lamb Luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the sale will follow at 1 p.m. Contributions and the proceeds from the California Ram Sale support CWGA in its continued efforts to deliver lasting value to support and grow all segments of the California sheep industry.

To request a California Ram Sale Catalog, contact the CWGA office at 916-444-8122 or info@woolgrowers.org, or Susan Taylor at ewes_fluffy@hotmail.com or 530-966-1975.

 

VIRGINIA
Animal Ag Alliance Plans Summit

Attend the 2020 Animal Ag Alliance Summit and you’ll be primed and prepared to build bridges from farm to fork. The event is set for May 7-8 in Arlington, Va.

Some agenda highlights include:

• Steve Lerch, president of Story Arc Consulting, will offer the opening keynote address. Lerch will give attendees insights into innovation and strategy gained from his decade at Google and experience serving as a digital strategy consultant to dozens of well-known brands.

• A session titled Building Links Along the Food Chain: Enhancing the Sustainability Conversation. Building on the livestock industry’s tremendous strides in the last few decades to produce meat, milk, poultry and eggs more efficiently, this panel will consider if there is an opportunity through food companies to improve consumer understanding of the tools that enable animal agriculture’s sustainability.

• A panel of registered dietitians will have a candid conversation about the latest consumer buzzwords in nutrition.

To register, visit Summit.AnimalAgAlliance.org.
The website also contains a full agenda and the most up-to-date information.

Sheep Heritage Foundation Accepting Scholarship Applications

KYLE PARTAIN
Sheep Industry News Editor

I spent much of my college career on academic probation. I also spent much of my college career working multiple newspaper jobs and married – which meant class attendance wasn’t always at the top of my priority list.

Even my journalism classes provided only small nuggets of information that I didn’t already know thanks to working in the industry that would become my chosen profession. That being said, my only goal in college was to get the degree that would be necessary to check off on future job applications. Not once did I have any intention of pursuing an advanced degree, and I’ve yet to encounter an employer who cared about my paltry college grade point average.

But there are professions where extensive information gathering (book learning, as my grandmother called it) is crucial. Animal science is certainly one of those areas. I’m often in awe of the trained researchers and scientists that populate the Agricultural Research Service and state extension offices, and I’m man enough to admit that I’m not even close to being the smartest guy in the room when I hang out with these folks. I’m sure they’ve seen my eyes glaze over when they delve into issues ranging from health to genetics to fecal egg counts.

Some of them are past winners of the Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship, which this year will award $3,000 to a post-graduate student looking to work on sheep-related topics of study. The deadline to apply is May 31, and the winner will be announced in the June or July issue of the Sheep Industry News.

The scholarship is for the advancement of the sheep industry – lamb and/or wool – through financial support of a graduate-level (MS or Ph.D.) student who is attending a school in the United States. I’d like to point out that the Sheep Heritage Foundation selection committee has done an incredible job through the years of selecting worthy candidates.

Past winners include folks such as Dr. Whit Stewart with the University of Wyoming and Dr. Tom Murphy with the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb. In just a few short years since winning the scholarship, both have already left their marks on American sheep research and education. Both are regular presenters at sheep conferences – including the ASI Annual Convention – all across the country and definitely considered experts by those in the industry.

The question now is, who will join them on the distinguished list of scholarship winners? If you’re interested, now is the time to start working on your application and gathering reference letters.

Application requirements include:

• Be a graduate student involved in sheep and/or wool research in such areas as animal science, agriculture economics or veterinary medicine with proof of graduate school acceptance;

• Complete an application;

• Present two letters of reference.

The application form can be downloaded from the ASI website at Sheepusa.org/ResearchEducation_Scholarship or obtained by writing to the American Sheep Industry Association, Attn: Memorial Scholarship, 9785 Maroon Circle, Suite 360, Englewood, CO 80112-2692, calling 303-771-3500 ext. 107 or emailing angelaa@sheepusa.org.

 

Travel

Now that the ASI Annual Convention is behind us, it’s time for me to get back out on the road. I pretty much have to give up traveling between December and March every year as we prepare for, attend and then wrap-up the convention. By the beginning of March I’m usually pretty antsy to shed my desk and spend some time visiting farms and ranches.

So, if you’ve got story ideas, feel free to send them my way. I’ve got a travel budget burning a hole in my pocket and ASI would prefer for me to spend every dime of it as I work to bring Sheep Industry News readers some great stories from all across the United States.

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