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A Pipeline To Success

Susan Shultz, ASI President

Recently, I was fortunate to be able to participate in the 50-year celebration of the Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program held in Pipestone, Minn. The history that was shared of this well-respected sheep management program was fascinating.

The program began with Dwight Holaway of North Central Wool recruiting 10 nearby families to join together with the purpose of increasing sheep production. It also began with a challenge to produce a 200-percent lamb crop in an operation with more than 100 ewes. A financial prize was claimed in 1972 – the first official year of the Pipestone Lamb and Wool program – by John and Shirley Wichern, whose grandson Joseph is still raising sheep and is a member of the program. The Pipestone program has increased from those 10 original operations in 1972 to 120 sheep operations that are members today.

“Lots of hands have touched this program,” said Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program Instructor Philip Berg about the program’s continued growth and success.

There are many facets of the Pipestone program that have made it beneficial to producers who want to be profitable. The program is based on each operation developing a comprehensive written business plan with measurable benchmarks to improve its production on a yearly basis. The members enroll in classes and gain knowledge on nutrition, genetics, animal health, facilities, labor management, accelerated lambing and, of course, profitability.
A central component of the program is that not only do the participants gain from the instructors, they also share their success and failures with each other. It works.

The Pipestone producers utilize modern technology for raising their bonus lambs, tracking their health concerns and weighing their lambs on a regular basis to optimize their unifying goal of marketing high-quality lambs.
Many of the lambs are marketed and harvested at the 130- to 140-pound range at 170 days. Now that is being efficient.
The Pipestone Lamb and Wool program is a part of the Minnesota West Community and Technical College and connects progressive sheep producers in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

The program also provides learning opportunities to all producers regardless of their location who are interested in improving their operations. The Sheep for Profit School will be held later this year, and a Sheep Facility Bus Tour is scheduled for 2024. Details on these events can be found on the program’s website at

I highly encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to learn new ways of becoming more efficient and profitable. Congratulations to the many participants and instructors that have contributed to the success of the Pipestone Lamb and Wool program during these past 50 years.

My best.

2023 Begins With Atypical Times

Charley Martinez, PH.D.
University of Tennessee

As we close 2022 and enter 2023, producers and market participants have sustained periods of drought in 2022 (some might still be in drought), varying prices in respective markets, interest rate hikes, increased input costs, increased inflation and other non-typical factors.
In usual years, the first quarter opens up on the heels of increased lamb production in the preceding fourth quarter. At the time of this writing, production has continued its non-increasing pattern since May. We typically lose a few slaughter days during December due to the holidays, thus production probably won’t increase and 2023 will begin with low, atypical production levels.
Moving into 2023, all segments in the industry will begin the year in unusual circumstances.

Prices and Slaughter

A key driver of slaughter and production is the wholesale market and, in particular, the lamb cutout value. The cutout value is the weighted average of all the primal cuts for a given lamb carcass. In 2022, the highest cutout value was $617.53 per cwt in the first quarter. But since then, the cutout value has steadily decreased to $479.73 per cwt., which is down approximately 29 percent from a year ago. While the cutout has decreased, it’s still approximately $127.30 per cwt. higher than the previous five-year average.

Lamb at the retail level is seeing a featuring rate at 11.3 percent, which is down from the 13.2-percent featuring rate a year ago. Rack prices were up $1.28 per lb. from a year ago, and shanks were up $4.00 per lb. from a year ago. But inflation is pressuring consumer demand and consumption at the meat case.
The cutout is derived from retail prices and other avenues of demand.

Through 2022 and entering 2023, retail prices have sustained inflation increases, while exports of American lamb have increased. These two factors will be crucial in the wholesale market from a demand standpoint.

On the supply side of the wholesale market, lamb and yearling slaughter liveweights have a four-week average of 125.5 lbs. with dressed weights having a four-week average of 63.75 lbs. During that same four-week time span, lamb and mature slaughter has averaged 33,100 head per week and 2,000 head per week, respectively. It’s important to note that the holidays will bring down the average as 2022 closes and 2023 begins. If prices in the lamb cutout market were to ramp up, lamb slaughter levels might pick up.

The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Marketing Service Colorado lambs on feed data indicates that there are 193,350 head in the feedlots. This puts the number on feed at approximately 26 percent lower than a year ago and 25,600 head lower than the previous five-year average. Fewer lambs on feed combined with falling dressed weights suggests tighter supplies to come on the supply side, which might spark some increased live lamb prices in the supply chain.

Imports and Cold Storage

Lamb meat imports have totaled 232.6 million pounds in 2022, through October. That is a 5-percent increase from last year during the same period. The increase through October compared to last year came from Australia. In October 2021, mutton imports from Australia began a four-month run of monthly imports of more than 10 million pounds per month. In 2022, mutton imports through October are about 16 percent lower than last year, with the lion’s share coming from lower Australian imports. The lower domestic production levels and higher prices might be the driving reason for the increase in total imports this year.

Cold storage of lamb and mutton stocks began to decrease from September to October. Typically, there is a decrease in storage in the second half of the year. In 2022, there was an increase in total storage, but with the decrease from September to October, total storage is only 1.4 million pounds more than a year ago.

Lamb Prices Finding Sustainable Steam?

The three-market average of Texas, South Dakota and Colorado feeder lamb (60 to 90 lbs.) prices in the first week of December saw the highest prices since June at $236.12 per cwt. New Holland, Penn., prices were lower on the same week at $225.67 per cwt. for 60 to 90 lbs., but prices have had four consecutive weeks above $225 per cwt. Similar trends for 60 to 90 lbs. feeder lambs have been seen in Tennessee, with Columbia, Tenn., prices around $220 per cwt.

Similarly, heavier weighted slaughter lambs saw an increase in prices in all major markets through November. But, in the first week of December, San Angelo, Texas, 100 to 150 lbs. slaughter lambs were averaging $149.50 per cwt. (Choice 1-3), which was approximately $10 per cwt. lower compared to the November average. New Holland 100 to 150 lbs. slaughter lambs (Choice 1-3) averaged $149.28 per cwt., and saw a similar decrease in early December prices relative to the November average of $168.93 per cwt. Fort Collins, Colo., 100 to 150 lbs. slaughter lambs (Choice 1-3) averaged $126.67 per cwt. in early December, and it was also lower than the November average of $133.53 per cwt.

While prices have varied in the regional markets, the national weekly negotiated slaughter lamb prices have trended upward for five continuous weeks. In early December, prices were $127.63 per cwt., which is below last year’s price at $233.56 per cwt. and below the previous five-year average of $145.65. If the national slaughter prices continue to increase, this could trickle down through to the lighter feeder weight classes in 2023.

This could already be occurring as a function of the lower production levels. Additionally, storage is decreasing, and imports are slowing compared to last year. The lamb market continues to have some mixed signals. On the positive side, declining dressed weights and production indicates less supplies contributing to better live lamb prices as we enter 2023.


There’s no question that the wool market has had its struggles for a large part when compared to 2021. But in early December, prices across all reported microns from 17 to 32 rebounded in response to the easing of China COVID policies. According to Australian Wool Innovation trade consultant Scott Carmody after many months of selling under uncertain demand and weakening price levels, the COVID zero policy changes in China had an immediate effect.

In the second week of December, most microns gained week-to-week, driven by increased buyer demand across all microns. The largest weekly price increases were seen in 18 micron (U.S. $5.77 per lb.), up 29 U.S. cents per lb. and 21 micron (U.S. $4.43 per lb.), up 33 U.S. cents per lb. In early December, the Australian Eastern Market Indicator had its highest weekly gain in 18 months of 54 AUS cents per kg clean or 37 U.S. cents per kg clean to a closing level of 1,278 AUS cents per kg clean (857 U.S. cents per kg clean). While current prices for all microns remain below those seen during the first half of 2022, the renewed demand from China should support prices in 2023.

As 2023 starts, the question moving forward is if the bottom in the wool market complex has been found. With the winter season upon us, there are some concerns that wool could miss its peak demand opportunity. Now that COVID restrictions are being lifted in countries around the world, does this spur more demand in 2023 for wool products? In addition to this big question, the global economic impact of inflation and interest rates will be something to watch.


In late November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans for a Section 32 purchase of American lamb products (i.e., leg roast, diced frozen product, shoulder chops, loin chops) that will then be distributed to various food nutrition assistance programs. This purchase will provide short term relief to ease the buildup of lamb supplies that occurred in 2022.

ASI Announces Annual
Industry Award Winners

Idaho’s Jeff Siddoway became the second member of his family to be selected as the winner of ASI’s McClure Silver Ram Award when he was chosen from a group of top-notch nominees as the 2023 recipient. His wife, Cindy – a past president of ASI – won the award in 2016.

Siddoway leads a slate of award winners that is second to none. He’ll be honored at the Industry Awards Luncheon on Jan. 20, at the ASI Annual Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. He’ll be joined on stage that day by:

• Distinguished Producer Award winner Dr. Stanley Poe of Indiana.

• Peter Orwick Camptender Award winners Jim Logan, DVM, of Wyoming,
and Cindy Wolf, DVM, of Minnesota.

• Industry Innovation Award winner Jeanne Carver of Oregon.

• Shepherd’s Voice Award winner KLST-TV/KSAN-TV of San Angelo, Texas.

McClure Silver Ram

A fifth-generation Idaho sheep rancher, Siddoway made his mark while serving 12 years in the Idaho State Senate.
He was also a regular participant in ASI’s Spring Trip to Washington, D.C., where he lobbied Congress on behalf of the industry. Siddoway ventured into politics “to protect agriculture,” and worked fervently on issues ranging from predator management to keeping the doors open at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho.

“We worked long and hard to save the station,” he said. “We almost saw its demise, but I’m proud to say it’s still going strong. I do look at some of our wins in Washington, D.C., and I’m thankful for those.”

Siddoway served on a variety of ASI’s councils and committees through the years, including a stint on the ASI Board of Directors. He’s also a past president of the Idaho Wool Growers Association.

“I just love the people in this industry and the industry itself,” he said. “We don’t always agree on everything, but we find a way to come together and move the industry forward. I wish I could say the industry was a little stronger than it is, but I think the next generation is going to do some great things with the sheep industry.”

As for winning the McClure Silver Ram Award, Siddoway said he could think of plenty of other producers who are just as (or more) deserving of the recognition.

“This was quite a surprise,” said Siddoway. “I’m humbled just to be nominated, much less to receive the award.”

Distinguished Producer

Dr. Stanley Poe is a lifelong sheep producer who was fortunate enough to work with both his father and his children in the family’s Hampshire operation. He was happy to hand over the operation to the next generation in the last year.

“I appreciate the fact that I didn’t have to have a dispersal sale when I decided it was time to retire,” he said. “I don’t really have much work to do around the farm now, but a lot of the sheep producers I worked with through the years admire the fact that I have sons who are just as interested in sheep as I was.”
Poe ramped up involvement with ASI after retiring from full-time work with an animal health company in 2000. The family operation was a leader in artificial insemination in the sheep industry and even hosted the ASI Executive Board for a farm tour several years ago. Poe is a past president of the Indiana Sheep Association and has regularly served as the state’s representative to the ASI Board of Directors.

Peter Orwick Camptender

Longtime ASI Animal Health Committee Co-Chairs Jim Logan, DVM, and Cindy Wolf, DVM, have provided an ideal balance of leadership for nearly 30 years, dating back to 1995.

“I had the regulatory experience where she was coming in with the education and teaching experience,” Logan said. “We just always seemed to work well together.”

Logan retired in 2021 from his position as the Wyoming state vet. While he raised sheep much of his life, he mostly dispersed the flock in 2012 to concentrate on his veterinarian duties.

“My family had sheep, my in-laws had sheep, so that was what we did,” he said. “I was a sheep producer from the time I was just a kid. The sheep were always important to me.”

But just as important was the leadership role he took, which allowed him to join Wolf in guiding animal health discussions for the entire American sheep industry.

“I am honored and appreciative to receive this award with my omniscient colleague and dear friend, Dr. Jim Logan,” said Wolf. “I am also grateful of having had the opportunity to work with talented ASI staff and fellow sheep producers from all over the United States. I also want to recognize my family who have supported me throughout my years of volunteer service to the sheep industry.”

According to a nomination form, Wolf started her internship at the University of Minnesota in 1984 with an interest in large animal medicine, specifically dairy cattle. But she cultivated knowledge in small ruminants while there and quickly became an advocate in the sheep and goat communities.

Industry Innovation

Jeanne Carver has been making her own way in the wool market for the better part of 25 years. Along the way, she’s provided wool for use in uniforms for the U.S. Olympic Team among other high-profile clients. Her Oregon ranch was the first to be certified under the Responsible Wool Standard – a third-party certification program.

In 2018, she started Shaniko Wool Company to scale up the supply of RWS-certified American wool. There are now 10 Western sheep producer members of the company. All totaled they run sheep on more than 2.5 million acres and shear more than 500,000 pounds of wool each year.

“These growers are the reason I’m receiving this award,” Carver said. “I’m speechless, but very honored and humbled by this recognition. The ranchers who are a part of Shaniko Wool are leaders at both the national and state levels of our industry.”

Carver said she pursued RWS certification because a potential wool customer asked her to. And now all of the producers under the company banner are annually receiving a premium price for their wool as consumers continue to push for more information on how their food and fiber is produced.
“I never knew where this road would go, but I just kept working,” Carver said. “I never dreamed I would get recognized by our national association for my work.”

Shepherd’s Voice

KLST/KSAN-TV of San Angelo, Texas, “considers it an honor to tell farmers’ and ranchers’ stories.” The station bridges the gap between viewers who aren’t familiar with agriculture and those who have been involved with the industry for generations.

The station will be honored with ASI’s Shepherd’s Voice Award that is presented annually to members of the media who cover the American sheep industry throughout the year.

In early 2022, the station told the story of Tanner Lott, whose mother passed away just before the San Angelo Stock Show in February. At the Annual Premium Sale, Lott’s lamb sold for $20,500 after “pretty much every person in attendance” pitched in.

“While we understand that not all of the stories we tell are specific to the sheep industry, we hope you will take our station into consideration for attempting to bring the importance of the ag industry to light,” wrote KLST’s Senora Scott.

Pope, Pfeiffer Receive
Wool Excellence Awards

Dr. Ronald Pope and Faron Pfeiffer – two researchers who each spent decades working in the American wool industry – have been selected by the Wool Roundtable as winners of the 2023 Wool Excellence Awards. They will be honored on Jan. 19 at the Wool Recognition Lunch during the ASI Annual Convention in Fort Worth, Texas.

Pope was raised on a sheep and angora goat ranch near Cross Plains, Texas, and graduated from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, with a bachelor’s and master’s in animal science before pursuing his doctorate in wool science from the University of Wyoming in 1982. After graduation, he owned sheep and alfalfa operations of the family ranch for 10 years. In 1996, he joined Producer’s Marketing Cooperative Inc. as a general manager.

Prior to that, he worked for ASI. From 1991 to 1995, he was the association’s director of raw wool services, responsible for overseeing national programs to improve domestic wool marketing options. This included collaborating with producers to encourage them to prepare their products for market in accordance with internationally recognized standards for wool preparation and packaging. He was also directed raw wool services-international from 1995 to 1997, where he was in charge of the organization’s international marketing to select foreign markets.

In 2013, he was hired as the Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist in charge of daily operations at the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory in San Angelo, Texas. He left there in 2021, but he is still working with PMCI as a general manager.

“Ron is everything wool,” said ASI Deputy Director Rita Kourlis Samuelson. “He was the first raw wool specialist at ASI, manages a warehouse, and used all his experience and education while employed at Texas A&M AgriLife. His expertise, cut-to-the-chase candor, honesty and dry sense of humor all mixed together have made it a pleasure and honor to work with him. But, most notably, I value when he has shared a Texas saying that brings clarity to a complex situation and, yet, always makes me smile.”

Pfeiffer enrolled at Angelo State University in 1974, graduating in 1979 with bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s in animal science in 1982. While attending ASU, he was employed with Hoelscher Pump and Supply from 1974 to 1977 and Mid-West Feed Yards in 1978.

Upon graduation, he worked for ASU briefly before being employed by the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center for the remainder of his career – first for Dr. Millard Calhoun in the Small Ruminant Nutrition lab and later for Dr. Chris Lupton upon completion of the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Lab. He retired from the wool lab in September 2022.

“Faron Pfeiffer has been a central figure at the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory, since it was founded,” said Dr. Reid Redden, director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center. “His steadfast efforts kept the laboratory serving the sheep industry though research and grower testing for decades.”

In 1983, he married his sweetheart, Barbi Lynn, in San Angelo and moved her to the metropolis of Veribest, Texas, where they have lived ever since. In 1991, they welcomed a son, Trevor, and raised him on the farm where he grew up raising and showing goats in 4-H and FFA and attending all major livestock shows in Texas.

Pfeiffer was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in San Angelo until 1985 before joining Trinity Lutheran Church in Miles, Texas (serving on the church council for eight years) until present. Organizations he belongs to include: Miles Masonic Lodge serving as master three times and district deputy grand master twice during the past 45 years, Waco Scottish Rite Bodies for 38 years, Suez Shrine for 18 years, Concho Shrine Club, ASU Block and Bridle, Texas Sheep & Goat Raisers’ Association, Veribest PTA, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as assistant superintendent of the collegiate wool judging contest, San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo as superintendent of the wool and mohair fleece show, San Antonio Livestock Exposition, American Society of Animal Science, ASU Alumni Association and Trans-Texas Southwest Credit Union.

Pfeiffer’s hobbies include attending stock shows and
rodeos, working and repairing equipment in his barn and for Barbi’s projects, hunting, fishing, golf, raising goats, having coffee with friends, entertaining and playing with the family’s three Corgis, and helping his wife prepare holiday meals for family.

Montana Wool Company

Parand Rezaei
ASI Communications Assistant

Montana Wool Company was born out of a long-standing love affair with wool and sheep. It is a new venture for the Roeder family – Brent, Tracie, Ben and Caroline – of Greenfield, Mont.

“Honestly, it was really frustrating to shear this beautiful wool off our sheep one day every year, stuff it in a bag and never see the end result of our hard work,” said Tracie. “We all have the desire to leave a legacy, something tangible. Quilts are in families for generations. It seems like wool blankets should be, as well.”

Agriculture has long been a way of life for the entire family. Brent, is a former Teton county extension agent, now serving as the Montana State University Extension sheep specialist. Tracie oversees the day-to-day operations of the family’s Montana Sheep and Montana Wool companies and is a Teton County Library Director. Ben is a professional sheep shearer and is shearing around the world – Scotland, Australia and New Zealand – before coming back stateside for the 2023 season. Caroline is a senior in ag business at MSU. She is a member of the MSU Wool Judging team and went to the National Lamb Feeders Association Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School this summer in Colorado.

“We’re all passionate about sheep. It’s very much a family enterprise,” Tracie said. In addition, they partner with Mountain Meadow Wool Mill, Battenkill Fibers, Bartlett Yarns, Lilly Marsh Studios and Thistle Hill Weavers to make their wool blankets.

Montana Sheep Company started in 2006 after working for the Hibbard family at Sieben Live Stock near Adel, Mont.. The Roeders bought and continue to buy seminal seedstock from historic Targhee producers. They have raised Targhee sheep – a dual-purpose breed good for both wool and lamb – for the last 16 years. Tracie said the decision to get into the fiber business “just made perfect sense.” As growers of Targhee sheep who participate in the National Sheep Improvement Program and have their wool evaluated at the Montana State University Wool Lab, they knew the genetics of their sheep held the promise of success.

“We cannot express enough gratitude for fellow Targhee breeders – Chase Hibbard, Carolyn and John Green, Jack and Kathy McRae, Sam and Nancy Ortmann, Judy Scanlan and Bob Innes for continuing to educate us about sheep,” Tracie said. “Truly we stand on the shoulders of giants, and any success we have had or continue to have moving forward is a direct result of their influence, mentorship and support. This is a shared story years in the making.”

Just as they had once bought into the success of local breeders, the Roeder’s began to see the value of their own flock as other producers bought into their breeding program. The family routinely sells rams and ewes at the Montana Ram Sale and the Montana Ewe Sale. With that in mind, it was time to put the genetics they were selling fellow producers to the test and make a living from their sheep in a different way – with value-added products.

Like every other commodity, producer profit margins are razor thin. The potential for additional income was a powerful incentive.

“Being price takers can be so demoralizing. Being price setters inspires you to continue and push past hard times,” said Tracie.

So, the Roeders branched out into two ventures. Montana Sheep Company partnered with Central Avenue Meats in Great Falls, Mont., to sell lamb. Montana Wool Company was formed to sell 100-percent grown in Montana, made in the United States wool blankets. Montana Wool started in 2018, after a cross country trip with fellow sheep producers Karen Helle and Carolyn Green to explore mid-size industrial scouring plants, wool mills and visits with weavers.

The company’s mission is to grow and manufacture domestic wool products and its vision is to provide for the basic human need of comfort and warmth renewably, sustainably and humanely while engaging people in American agriculture. They started selling prototype blankets in 2019 and 2020, and now offer blanket sizes ranging from baby to throw to twin to queen.

“Going from sheep producers to making a value-added product requires a lot of mental and physical energy. It also means being realistic about your aspirations, humble about the limitations of the commodity you produce and flexible in changing course,” Tracie said. “It requires startup capital, challenging yourself in new ways, interacting with people with whom you would not normally have a relationship, getting out of your comfort zone, incredible amounts of research and equally incredible leaps of faith.

“It means listening to the advice of others, but not losing the vision you have for your product. Often it is your worst and best day all wrapped into one. Finally, market intelligence and business counseling from our local rural economic development office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value-Added Producer program, and Montana Growth Through Agriculture all played roles in the development of Montana Wool Company.”

Because of the unique characteristics of Targhee wool, the family chose to make blankets versus other wool products. In contrast to other fine wool breeds, Targhee wool has a natural loft that increases insulation value. Weavers for Montana Wool Company say it is a very easy wool fiber with which to work.

“All wool in our blankets is 20 to 23 microns, has a 90- to 100-millimeter-long staple length, and a minimum comfort factor of 98.5 percent,” Tracie said. “Since the Targhee breed participates in NSIP, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of breeding for better wool.

Testing through the Montana Wool Lab confirms it. We grade fleeces in a traditional, subjective sense, but also have the numbers to back up our decisions objectively. We are grateful for the pioneering genius of Dr. David Notter in the development of NSIP. Without him and the Montana Wool Lab, our hope of developing a consistently soft, warm wool blanket would not have been possible.”

Montana Wool Company is unique because it reflects Montana and the West. Each blanket style has a story attached to it. For instance, Legacy blankets reflect the character of Montana, while limited-edition blankets represent a snapshot in time. Latitude blankets express their rural nature. The Littles blankets demonstrate the promise seen in children. Through time blankets in each category will be added honoring heroes of Montana – past and present – while promoting wool as renewable, sustainable and humane.

“What we do here matters,” Tracie said. “We need to tell our story through our products. We are involved in agriculture. We must claim our culture, so it is not lost.”
To learn more, visit

USDA Announces Plans for
Section 32 Lamb Purchase

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in late November 2022 plans for a Section 32 purchase of American lamb products for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs, as requested by ASI and the National Lamb Feeders Association earlier this year.

Support for the purchase also came from congressional delegations from several Western states in recent months.

“We made the initial request with NLFA in the spring because we saw the supply issues starting to occur,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “We’ve since had numerous meetings with USDA and lamb companies in support of a purchase.”

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service issued a pre-solicitation notice with “the purpose to encourage the continued domestic consumption of these products by diverting them from the normal channels of trade and commerce.”

The notice said lamb leg roasts, diced lamb, lamb shoulder chops and lamb loin chops might all be included in the forthcoming solicitation.
“Solicitations will be issued in the near future and will be available via a Request for Quote,” read the pre-solicitation notice. “To request that your entity receive a copy of the RFQ, please email All contract activity will be available via WBSCM. Public WBSCM information is available without an account on the WBSCM Public Procurement Page.

“All future information regarding this acquisition, including solicitation amendments and award notices, will be published on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website. Interested parties shall be responsible for ensuring that they have the most up-to-date information about this acquisition. The contract type is anticipated to be FOB Origin, firm-fixed price.”

Orwick said the meat purchase is basically adding a new customer for American lamb in the coming months and ought to help strengthen demand.
As a volunteer trade association, ASI is very limited in ways to impact lamb prices outside of this USDA tool.

ASI Adds Items
To Online Shop

United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rule in June amending the emergency release notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The amendments clarify that reporting of air emissions from animal waste at farms is not required under EPCRA.

ASI worked on resolving this issue on behalf of American sheep producers and supports the subsequent changes.

The final rule comes as first responders across the county have repeatedly reminded the agency that community-specific protocols are determined between local responders and animal producers well in advance of emergencies. These strong partnerships provide a platform for resolving issues when they arise without the need for a national one-size-fits-all approach.

“This final rule provides clarity and certainty to the regulated community that animal waste emissions from farms do not need to be reported under EPCRA,” said Wheeler. “This action eliminates an onerous reporting requirement and allows emergency responders and farmers to focus on protecting the public and feeding the nation, not routine animal waste emissions.”

“The goal of emergency response officials and local emergency planning committees is to prepare communities for emergency threats related to hazardous chemical releases. Such emergency threats do not include ‘best guess’ reporting on day-to-day emissions on farms and animal operations,” said National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials President Tim Gablehouse. “The focus of LEPCs should be and is on chemical hazards that present meaningful risk of harm to community members and first responders. We look forward to working on enhanced coordination and cooperation between all community members to improve preparedness for hazardous chemical releases.”

The changes to emergency release reporting regulations reflect the existing relationship between EPCRA and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, and provide consistency between the two environmental laws.

On March 23, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (Omnibus Bill). Title XI of the Omnibus Bill is entitled the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act. The FARM Act expressly exempts reporting of air emissions from animal waste (including decomposing animal waste) at a farm from CERCLA section 103. The FARM Act also provides definitions for the terms animal waste and farm. Because these types of releases are exempted under CERCLA, based on the release reporting criteria under EPCRA section 304, these types of releases are also exempt under EPCRA section 304.

On Oct. 30, 2018, Wheeler proposed the reporting exemption alongside Gablehouse and various state animal producer trade associations.

You can read the final rule here at

For more information, visit

ASI Pilot Project Identifies
Hurdles to EID at Markets

The increasing popularity of electronic identification in the livestock industry and the global livestock market prompted ASI to evaluate transitioning to an electronic identification system in the United States, particularly with animals moving in commerce.

EID technology has been used in livestock since the late 1990s and, in some countries, has become an integral part of market sustainability programs. The where food comes from movement among consumers is pushing many large domestic meat retailers – such as Walmart and McDonalds – to require sustainability tracing for products they sell, and early adopters competing for retail space could realize a competitive edge with their ability to accommodate traceability demands.

Recent concerns about economically significant foreign animal diseases, such as African Swine Fever and Foot and Mouth Disease also have countries adopting EID traceability systems in livestock. With FMD in China, Australia is moving to implement a nationwide EID system for livestock and by 2025 will require all imported wool bales to have EID technology attached. Canada, too, will require all species of livestock to have EID tags by 2025.

ASI conducted a pilot project to assess auction market readiness to adopt EID technology. An EID system at the sale barn should ultimately increase the speed and accuracy of moving sheep, but whether their current operations are able to adapt to this new technology in a way that adds benefit to them and their consignors, while also meeting the needs of animal health officials during an animal disease situation, is a question.

The pilot project was carried out at the Delta Sales Yard in Colorado. Using Allflex and Shearwell official EID tags, sheep were tagged on farms and ranches prior to arrival at the sale barn, and some sheep were tagged at the sale barn. The pilot project successfully revealed benefits of implementing an EID system for producers and the market, but also demonstrated that a one-size fits all approach is not applicable to the auction market sector.

The study confirmed significant challenges to markets such as Delta should they move to implement EID technology, including that commonly available software for live animal auctions in the United States could not meet the requirements necessary to integrate electronic ID in a marketplace setting. A market’s computer and software capabilities could be a major stumbling block for adoption of the technology.

Software Compatibility & Panel Reader Location

Wireless internet access and Bluetooth capabilities are necessary to convey the data from panel readers to a market’s computer system. Unfortunately, in this case, the computer system used did not have either technology, partly because the company providing the software did not wish to update its product to meet the needs of the technology.

For movement recording purposes, panel readers would ideally be located where the animals are first off-loaded and tag information can be collected as the animals arrive at the sale yard. Normal market activity of sorting animals into different lots does not require data collection from the animals, although markets could use the technology for their own purposes to track animals within lots. In this project, because of the need for hard-wired access to the internet, the panel readers were placed in a retrofitted alleyway closer to the sale ring.

Another hurdle with the software was that it would only accept data from five tags at a time, so only five sheep in a lot could be read. Furthermore, once a tag number was read, the software would not permit it to be read a second time. This meant that in a situation where a buyer might want only three sheep out of a lot of five, the two remaining sheep could not be re-scanned and entered as a new lot for sale. In markets with more advanced market software, these situations are addressed by using a handheld reader to collect the tag numbers from the turned back sheep before they are reweighed and sold, a process that works very smoothly and does not hold up the sale.

Project Recommendations

It is expected that by early 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue a rule requiring EID to be used as official ID in cattle. Based on the number of shortcomings the ASI pilot project revealed at mixed species markets about the capability to utilize EID technology, ASI believes it would be premature to impose this requirement on the sheep industry. USDA needs to make significant investment in the infrastructure needs of mixed species livestock markets if it wishes to have the markets adopt an effective electronic ID system, including investments in software, hardware and/or other infrastructure needs of markets. ASI also recommends a more robust evaluation of the readiness of livestock markets to adopt digital technology.

Sheep producers are increasingly adopting EID technology, which might press livestock markets to adapt. The producers participating in this project believe EID is a valuable tool that will gain favor in the industry for several reasons, including time-savings, the ease of capturing data and the assistance such data can provide to production decisions, such as managing nutrition needs for ewes carrying twins versus singles, improving wool traits, tracking administration of medicine, and identifying cull animals based on their productivity. The technology has the potential to provide value-added benefits to producers, especially as more and more meat retailers are requiring traceability for their consumers.

In any major animal health event, the goal should be to rapidly capture movement data so disease can quickly be contained, and allow commerce get back to normal. The most common response to any disease situation is an immediate “stop-movement” order for all animals and animal products, and sometimes vehicles. The longer it takes to back off a stop-movement order, the more devastating the impact, both to the livelihoods of producers and to the animals in their care.

A video on the project is available at
This project was made possible, in part, by a cooperative agreement from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. It may not necessarily express APHIS’ views.

ASI Adds to Office Staff

Kyle Partain
Sheep Industry News Editor

The ASI office staff is a small group with surprisingly diverse backgrounds and interests. Some of you might remember that Christa Rochford spent her early years performing with her family in a circus, while Zahrah Khan was born in Pakistan and then grew up in Idaho. Peter Orwick and Rita Samuelson both came off large, Western sheep ranches to find their way into leadership roles in the industry. I’ve spent more than 20 years covering rodeo after starting my career as a sportswriter.

Our wide-ranging group has added some members that I’d like to introduce.
Administrative Assistant Chris Jones joined the staff in the fall of 2021 and attended his first ASI Annual Convention last year in San Diego. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Northern Colorado. He moved to Los Angeles after college to play in a band and audition for various television and movie roles. But after four years there he decided to move back to Colorado to be near family.

Performing – whether it be on stage, on camera, singing or playing guitar – has always been his passion. But music and expanding his VHS video collection take up most of his free time these days. Chris is a real-life wedding singer. His side gig involves playing for an international company that hires local musicians and pairs them together for parties, weddings and corporate events. Summer is his busy season as weddings make up a large chunk of his performance schedule.

Married to an actress, Lynzee, who performs in local theater and teaches children’s acting classes, Chris took a page from the sheep producer playbook and got an “off-farm” job to provide the family with a steady paycheck and benefits. He came to ASI after working in a similar administrative role with a local parks and recreation district.

The most recent addition to our staff is Communications Assistant Parand Rezaei. A native of Iran, Parand spent the last few years in Lubbock, Texas, where she earned a master’s degree in communication studies from Texas Tech University. While she’ll handle a variety of communications and administrative duties, we brought Parand on board for her skills in graphic design and social media.

I often joke with people that I’m not a photographer, I’m a writer who takes pictures. The same goes with design. I’m not a designer, I’m a writer who designs things. We believe Parand has a real eye for design, and I’m sure you’ll start to notice her influence in the magazine, association publications and on social media in the months to come. In fact, she’s already researching ideas for a complete overhaul of the magazine’s design later this year.

“One of the most notable characteristics of us as Iranians is our thirst for knowledge,” Parand said. “Iran is most famous for being the birthplace of the Persian empire. It has one of the richest heritages of art history and culture, including paintings, pottery, calligraphy, sculpture, metalworking and music. All of the great backgrounds and histories of my country made me want to study art.”

Parand completed a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in Iran before emigrating to the United States. She’s been a regular visitor to the country, however, spending summer vacations here since 2009. She completed the move from Lubbock to Denver in mid-November and is looking forward to meeting people from all segments of the American sheep industry during this month’s ASI Annual Convention. Since she’s about half my age, it seems appropriate that we assign her to the Young Entrepreneurs in Fort Worth.

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