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ASI, ALB are Separate Entities

Benny Cox, ASI President

I joined your other ASI officers in late August at the first-ever Lamb Summit in Fort Collins, Colo. Sponsored by the American Lamb Board, this meeting was informative and well attended with more than 200 present.

The Lamb Board’s cutoff was going to be 150, but spots filled so quickly they allowed another 50 individuals. Colorado State University was a big asset to this program, and ALB’s Megan Wortman, Rae Maestas, Becca Martin and Karissa (Maneotis) Isaacs did a great job setting up the event. I have been around Megan and Rae at many of their functions, as well as formative meetings, and I have lots of confidence in their performance handling our checkoff dollars along with guidance from the 13 American Lamb Board members.

I have heard that many are confused about ASI and the American Lamb Board being the same organization. Well, let me set that straight. ASI is a national trade organization of 45 state sheep producer organizations representing America’s sheep producing farm and ranch families in federal legislation, regulation, animal health and producer communications. We are the legislative leg for American sheep producers.

The American Lamb Board cannot be involved in politics. ASI built the national promotion lamb checkoff, which was implemented 2002 and approved twice in national referendums with votes by lamb producers, feeders, seedstock producers and processors. The function of the American Lamb Board is to promote marketing and promotion of American lamb through information and research programs with a focus on increasing demand by promoting the freshness, flavor, nutritional benefits and culinary versatility of American lamb. This is all made possible by national sheep checkoff dollars. The checkoff is 70 cents per hundred on all sheep, regardless of type or age, whether sold through auction or private treaty. There is also a charge to the first handler at slaughter. Yes, that is right. The first handler is the processor. I had to think on that one for a while.

Even though the officers and executive board of ASI nominate individuals to USDA to serve on the American Lamb Board, they have to be approved by the Secretary of Agriculture. The work of the American Lamb Board is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the board’s programs are supported and implemented by the staff in Denver. ALB has three full-time employees that implement programs with the help of several contract partners, including Karissa who oversees the board`s research and assists with industry services and education. Both Megan and Rae were hired in 2004 and are celebrating their 15th anniversaries this year. Becca – the third full-time employee – started in 2016. She is there to help manage the board’s social media and events.

ASI has an American Lamb Council that handles policy issues of the lamb business. Recently, nearly all of the three dozen volunteers I appointed to that council conducted a conference call and asked for updates on the ASI lamb risk price insurance, the ASI legislative drive to reauthorize mandatory price reporting for lamb, and proper labeling of lab grown meat to separate the fake from real American lamb. The ASI members discussed efforts to open up markets for lamb, including a recent ask by USDA to help with South Korean interest in our lamb.

Also mentioned was a Senate request for China to accept our product. We relayed the latest on trade assistance with ASI support of a lamb meat purchase as USDA included considerable funds for lamb alongside dozens of food products.

I hope this description of topics gives you a clear picture of the type of work ASI does versus the checkoff funded American Lamb Board. The two groups generally have a joint session during the sheep industry convention as they have similar presentations on some topics, such as the market reporting and analysis that ASI provides and you read every month in this magazine.

Erica Sanko of California consults for ASI in support of the ASI American Lamb Council, and is a great resource on market reports and the lamb business. Bob Harlan of the National Lamb Feeders Association serves as chair of the American Lamb Council, and David Quam of Texas is the vice chair.

Lamb Price Seasonality Less Predictable

JULIE STEPANEK SHIFLETT, PH.D.
Juniper Economic Consulting

Slaughter lamb prices would typically see lows early in the year, annual highs mid-year and then taper off toward the year’s end. The high might shift some month’s year-to-year, but seasonality was pronounced and somewhat predictable.

All that changed in 2012 when slaughter lamb prices fell month-after-month for 11 months. The following three years were odd-ball years, defying historical seasonality. In some years, prices gained or saw a mid-year downturn – opposite historical trends.

During the last few years, the seasonality we knew from a decade ago is reappearing, but the extremes from low and highs are much more pronounced. Imports now play a much larger role in setting the domestic live lamb market, throwing a monkey wrench (yes, an economic term) into forecasting. By early September, we enjoyed an eight-month run-up in slaughter lamb prices, so we know a downturn is coming, but when?

Slaughter Lamb Market
On the back of tight domestic supplies and an inevitable slowdown in imports, slaughter lamb prices have remained relatively high this year. Slaughter lamb prices on formula averaged $298.27 per cwt. in August, steady with July and 6 percent higher year-on-year. Weights fell 5 percent in August to 79 lbs., down 6 percent from a year ago. The live-equivalent price was $152.50 per cwt.

Live, negotiated slaughter lambs averaged $154.77 per cwt. in August, down 4 percent monthly and up 6 percent year-on-year. Live weights averaged 142 lbs., down 5 percent monthly and down 5 percent year-on-year.

Producers are seeing higher slaughter lamb prices, but no pelt credit. The American pelt market fell further into negative territory in August. The highest quality unshorn supreme pelts ranged from -$2.60 to $0.90 per piece, down an average 800 percent monthly and 152 percent year-on-year. The U.S.-China trade war and the diminished demand for synthetic leather have taken their toll on sheepskins.

Feeder Lamb Market
In late August, the Northern Livestock Video auction sold more than 7,000 feeder lambs from Montana and Wyoming. Lambs under 90 lbs. brought $157 to $182 per cwt. A load of 95-lb. lambs brought $165.50 per cwt. All lambs were for September and October delivery. Reportedly, demand was moderate to good and the best demand was for weaned lambs or lambs for October to November delivery

Sixty- to 90-lb. feeders in Sioux Falls, S.D., averaged $157.35 per cwt. in August, down 4 percent monthly and up 1 percent year-on-year. Feeders in Fort Collins, Colo., averaged $260.50 per cwt., up 2 percent monthly and up 10 percent year-on-year.

Meat Market
The wholesale composite averaged $393.39 per cwt. in August, down 1 percent monthly yet up 5 percent year-on-year.

The primals were mixed in August. The shoulder, square-cut, averaged $322.59 per cwt., up 4 percent monthly. The 8-rib rack, medium, averaged $854.74 per cwt., down 3 percent. The loin, trimmed 4×4, averaged $521.34 per cwt., down 1 percent monthly. The leg, trotter-off, saw a 2-percent drop monthly to $381.08 per cwt.

The year-to-date gain in the net carcass value was supported by an unprecedented 15-percent gain in the year-on-year value of the lamb shoulder. The shoulder hit a two-year high in August. A quick Google search found more than 30 news hits for lamb shoulder during the past three months. The shoulder is a competitive, versatile cut, and popular across cultures.

For the first three months of the year, the American shoulder was 95 percent of Australia’s shoulder. The Australian shoulder might have outpriced some customers, giving the domestic shoulder a lift. In March through June, the Australian shoulder lost value while the American shoulder rose to 105 percent of its competitors’ value.
The 8-rib rack, medium was up 4 percent year-on-year. The loin was down 5 percent year-on-year in August. The leg was up 3 percent year-on-year.
Ground lamb saw $576.48 per cwt. in August, steady with July and up 1 percent year-on-year.

Lamb Production Current
Domestic supplies and production were tight this summer, as indicated by lower harvest weights and reduced number of lambs with excess back fat yield grading 4 and 5.
Lamb harvest for the summer months of June through August was down 7 percent year-on-year to an estimated 479,908 head, dressed weights were down 5 percent from last summer to 65 lbs. During this same three months, production was off 12 percent to 32 million, or down 4 million lbs.

At the beginning of September, 83,389 head were reported in Colorado feedlots, down 38 percent year-on-year and down 24 percent from October’s five-year average. Lambs are also finished in the Midwest, but total volume is unknown. As we often see at this time of year, September’s lambs on feed in Colorado were up 40 percent from August, gearing up for the December holidays.

Imports Higher
Imports rose in 2019, but slowed into August. In the first six months of the year, total lamb imports were up 19 percent year-on-year to 128.1 million lbs. Australian imports were up 19 percent to 94.0 million lbs. and New Zealand imports were up 16 percent to 33.0 million lbs.

In January through June, Australian imported volume was up, but so too was its value, suggesting Australian lamb is commanding a higher premium in domestic markets. Total value was up 26 percent year-on-year to $350 million. A simple calculation revealed that 2019-to-June’s imported unit value jumped 5 percent to $3.72 per lb.

According to a more recent Meat & Livestock Australia report, Australian lamb exports slowed in August, down 5 percent year-on-year (9/5/2019). However, in the year through August, Australia’s lamb exports were up year-on-year. China’s year-to-August lamb imports from Australia saw a 20 percent year-on-year increase. By comparison, the United States saw 4 percent growth.

Lamb Exports Up in July
Strong variety meat demand in Mexico and the Caribbean pushed July exports of American lamb 36 percent higher year-over-year in volume (1,650 MT), while value increased 11 percent to $2.4 million — the highest since February.

For January through July, lamb exports were 41 percent above last year’s pace at 9,433 MT, while value increased 16 percent to $15.6 million. Muscle cut exports were lower than a year ago in volume (1,290 MT, down 16 percent), but edged 2 percent higher in value to $8.6 million.

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, markets showing promising muscle cut growth include the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama and Guatemala (9/6/19).

Freezer Inventory Hit Three-Year High
In early September, total lamb and mutton in cold storage was 43.1 million lbs., up 8 percent monthly and up 2 percent year-on-year. This is the highest level since mid-2016, and 91 percent of its record high.

Many industry participants believe that freezer inventory is largely imported product; however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t provide a domestic versus import breakdown. Regardless of domestic/import share in the freezers, history tells us that as cold storage levels climb, the domestic wholesale composite softens, as occurred in 2015 and 2016.

Forecasts
In late August, the Livestock Marketing Information Center forecasted tighter supplies from a year ago heading into the fourth quarter. It is therefore anticipated that national, direct slaughter lamb prices on a carcass basis could be $285 to $291 per cwt. in the fourth quarter, up 6 percent year-on-year. Sixty- to 90-lb. feeders are forecasted to see an 8-percent gain compared to last year to $165 to $173 per cwt.

By year’s end, LMIC forecasted a slowdown in imports, a drawdown in freezer inventory, for a year-over-year increase in total availability for 2019 (8/26/19). Commercial production is forecasted to be lower in 2019 over 2018 due to higher slaughter numbers, but sharply lower dressed weights, from 68 lbs. in 2018 to 65 lbs. in 2019.

Lamb Demand Headwinds Possible
Economic uncertainty can pose a concern for lamb demand in coming months. The Consumer Sentiment Index posted its largest monthly decline in August 2019 (-8.6 points) since December 2012 (-9.8 points), according to the University of Michigan (U-M) Surveys of Consumers.

According to U-M economist Richard Curtin, director of the surveys, the recent decline is due to negative references to tariffs.

“The August data indicate that the erosion of consumer confidence due to tariff policies is now well under way,” reported Curtin. Additional consumer concerns included inflation, rising unemployment and expectation of smaller gains in household incomes.

Australian Wool Market Slump Continued
By early September, the Australian wool market continued its five-month slide, “being unable to find a solid level and prices were consistently reduced,” (Weekly Wool Market Report, 8.29/19). However, the EMI in U.S. dollars saw a small lift, “perhaps the first glimmer of demand slowly returning,” (Wool Market Weekly Report, 9/6/19).

On Sept. 6, the Australian Eastern Market Indicator averaged Australian $6.19 per lb. (down 34 percent in a year) and U.S. $4.22 per lb. clean (down 39 percent year-on-year). Reportedly, 18.5 micron and finer were least affected as buyers looked to secure finer wools.

After hitting a historic high of 2,116 Australian cents per kg in August 2018, the Australian wool market has been trending downward. Wool supplies have remained tight, supporting prices, but demand has wavered, subjecting the market to trade and overall economic uncertainty. The U.S.-China trade war exacerbates a market that was already struggling with lower Chinese growth and overall economic growth malaise.

By some accounts Australian wool growers are holding onto their wool in hopes of higher prices. If this move is widespread, the reduced offering might lend support to the market in coming weeks. However, “many growers were selling to meet the rising and constant financial commitments and costs associated with flock management in the tough drought conditions that unfortunately continue unabated,” (WTiN Report, 9/6/19).

At an import tariff of 25 percent, Chinese buyers are reluctant to buy American wool or, if they buy, offer a 25-percent discount. In the first six months of the year, total American wool exports by volume was 1.5 million kg., down 30 percent year-on-year. Raw wool exports were down 34 percent to 962,950 kgs clean, and degreased/scoured wool was off 48 percent to 156,800 kgs.

By value, total exports were down 19 percent to $13.5 million. Raw wool exports were down 14 percent by value to $8.3 million, and degreased/scoured wool exports were down 53 percent to $516,000.

Carded wool tops were down 25 percent by value to $4.4 million while its volume was up 15 percent to 313,000 kg.

ALB Lamb Summit Addresses Industry Challenges, Solutions

American Lamb Board

Outcomes from the inaugural American Lamb Board American Lamb Summit were clear: all segments of the industry need to further improve lamb quality to keep and attract new customers and become more efficient to recapture market share from imported lamb. Yet, it was just as clear that production technologies and product research put industry success within grasp.

“I have never been so enthusiastic about our industry’s opportunities, but we just can’t allow ourselves to be complacent or accept status quo,” said Dale Thorne, American Lamb Board chairman, a sheep producer and feeder from Michigan. “The end-game is profitability for all aspects of our industry.”

The summit, sponsored by the American Lamb Board and Premier 1 Supplies, brought together 200 sheep producers, feeders and packers from all across the country to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., on Aug. 27-28.

The conference included in-depth, challenging discussions ranging from consumer expectations, business management tools, realistic production practices to improve productivity and American lamb quality and consistency, to assessing lamb carcasses. Sessions were planned so that attendees would gain tools for immediate implementation.

ALB’s Lamb Checkoff Facebook page features summary videos from the sessions and additional resources. The Lamb Resource Center website is the hub for all summit information.

Consumers redefine quality
“Consumers are ours to win or lose,” said Michael Uetz, managing principal of Midan Marketing. His extensive research with meat consumers shows that the definition of quality now goes beyond product characteristics, especially for Millennials and Generation Z. “It now includes how the animal was raised, what it was fed or not fed, impact on sustainability, and influence on human health. Your power is in your story. You have a great one to tell about American lamb.”

Lamb production tools
Increasing flock productivity, collecting and using production and financial data were stressed as critical steps for on-farm improvements.

“The best way to improve productivity is to increase the number of lambs per ewe,” said Reid Redden, Ph.D., sheep and goat specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. “Pregnancy testing your ewes should be part of a producer’s routine. Not only can open ewes be culled, but ewes can be segmented for the number of lambs they are carrying for better allocation of feed.”

While genetic selection is now common in beef, pork and both Australian and New Zealand sheep, the American sheep industry’s slow adoption is hindering flock improvement and giving competition a definite advantage, said Rusty Burgett, program director for the National Sheep Improvement Program. He pointed to how the cattle industry uses EPDs (expected progeny differences) to select for traits.

“We can do the same with our tools, but we must get more sheep enrolled into the program,” said Utah sheep producer Tom Boyer.

Carcass and meat quality
Understanding what leads to quality American lamb on the plate means looking beyond the live animal to carcass quality, stressed summit speakers involved in processing and foodservice.

Individual animal traceability is ultimately what is required to give consumers the transparency they are demanding, said Henry Zerby, Ph.D., Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Co-op, Inc. A lamb producer himself, Zerby was straight-forward with summit participants.

“Being able to track animals individually to know if they were ever given antibiotics, how they were raised, through the packer is on the horizon. We need to realize and prepare for that.” American lamb processors are implementing systems at various levels and offer programs for sheep producers.

Lamb flavor has been an industry topic for decades. Dale Woerner, Ph.D., Texas Tech University meat scientist, has been conducting research funded by ALB. He explained that flavor is a very complex topic, influenced by characteristics such as texture, aroma, cooking and handling of the product, and even emotional experience.

“Lamb has more than one flavor profile, affected by feeding and other practices,” he explained. Summit participants tasted four different lamb samples, which illustrated Woerner’s points about various preferences and profiles.

“By grouping carcasses or cuts into flavor profile groups, we can direct that product to the best market,” he said.

What’s next
The summit was designed to instill relevant, meaningful knowledge that can be implemented immediately to address both current and future needs. It also sought to inspire collaboration, networking and information sharing across all segments of the American lamb industry.

“If we work together to implement progressive production changes throughout our supply chain, we can regain market share from imported product and supply our country with more great-tasting American lamb,” said Thorne.

ALB hopes that attendees left the summit with multiple ideas to do just that.

Around the States

WISCONSIN
UW CALS To Honor Dr. Thomas
Dr. David Thomas will be among a group of honorees this month as the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences presents several awards. Thomas will receive the college’s Distinguished Service Award.

These are the highest honors bestowed by the college. The Distinguished Service Award – first given in 1994 – recognizes meritorious service by CALS faculty and staff members.

Thomas began and completed his professional career at UW–Madison. Having an interest in sheep for as long as he can remember, Thomas majored in meat and animal science as an undergraduate and went on to the Peace Corps, where he held animal production roles in Kenya.

Upon returning to the United States, Thomas enrolled in graduate school at Oklahoma State University, where he also earned his Ph.D. in animal sciences. After serving on the faculties at Oregon State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Thomas returned to his home state of Wisconsin, and he remained on the faculty at CALS until his retirement in 2017.

During his tenure, he became one of the most sought-after sheep experts in the world, making significant discoveries that would positively impact the sheep industry. His influence is expansive, beginning close to home in Wisconsin and spreading as far as New Zealand. Research projects, academic conferences and visits to research institutions have brought Thomas to nearly 30 countries.

At UW, Thomas was a respected mentor, excellent teacher and prolific researcher. Thomas grew up in Mineral Point, Wis., and is the eldest of four sons of the late Jack and Elaine Thomas. He and his wife, Lynda, have three children and seven grandchildren.

Other awards being presented that day include the Honorary Recognition Award to Tim Boerner and Gerald Weiss, and the Distinguished Alumni Award to Barbara Barton, Elzie Higginbottom and Steven Ricke.

The awards will be presented at the CALS Honorary Recognition Banquet on Thursday, Oct. 17, in Union South. For more information and to register for the event, visit CALS.Wisc.edu/honorary/.

IDAHO
DSANA Symposium Set for Nov. 7-10
Registration is now open for the Dairy Sheep Association of North America’s Dairy Sheep Symposium, Nov. 7-10 in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Among the topics that will be covered by speakers at this year’s symposium are:

• H-2A Workers for Seasonal Sheep Dairies. This year a Texas agency called Head Honchos helped an American sheep dairy get approved for the U.S. Department of Labor’s H-2A visa program for “temporary agricultural labor.” As a result, two Mexican workers arrived at that sheep dairy in early February to work for the season. Todd Miller of Head Honchos will speak about the H-2A program and its costs, requirements, etc.

• Selling Bottled Milk Direct to Consumers. About half of DSANA members are producer-processors, meaning they both milk sheep and process the milk into yogurt, cheese, etc. But only a small number sell bottled milk direct to consumers. Three producers will take part in a panel discussion about their experiences selling bottled sheep’s milk.

• How Pasture Species Affect Cheese Flavor Profiles. Cheese made from pasture-fed dairy animals has a singular flavor, unique to the farm – a strong marketing point used by many artisanal cheesemakers. Tom Pyne of Twenty Paces, a sheep dairy and creamery in Charlottesville, Va., will provide forage chemistry background.

Additional information is available at DSANA.org.

TEXAS
Heritage Park Celebrates Agriculture
Heritage Park – a new “show and tell” destination in the heart of downtown San Angelo, Texas – is open and saluting the area’s agricultural influence and impact, especially that of early day sheep raisers.

This unique respite on a half city block tells in sight and sound the story of the city’s beginnings and encourages conservation of the area’s most precious resources, namely water.

Local businessman/rancher/community leader Lee Pfluger shepherded the private sector project and San Angelo Area Foundation President Matt Lewis and his organization will ensure the permanency of the site. These leaders were assisted by a committee of artists, builders, historians, horticulturalists and philanthropists.
Approximately two dozen pioneer stories of Concho Valley ranching families feed into a video loop which will educate visitors and school children alike. Life-like sculptures by Raul Ruiz and Scott Sustek also will enthuse guests and tourists.

Among the family honorees are Bean, Caldwell, Glass, Johnson, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Mayer, McLaughlin, Mertz, Murphey, Neal, Noelke, Pfluger, Powell, Schneemann, Tankersley, Tweedy, Vincent, Weatherby, Wilhelm and Wilson.

In addition to foundations and grants, private donors and brick pavers have helped finance the park and ongoing educational programs. For more details, visit HeritageParkSanAngelo.com or call 325-655-6565.

IDAHO
State Association Announces Changes
The Idaho Wool Growers Association is pleased to welcome Naomi Gordon to its team as its new Executive Director. Gordon has an extensive background in nonprofits, and a large list of accolades to her credit.

“I have worked with, and for, many grass-roots entities throughout the nation, but none of them has had quite the passion and drive this one does,” said Gordon. “The wool growers are so rich with history and love for our state, I am quite excited to become part of the team.

“This first year will be one of listening and learning about what each sector needs. The industry as a whole is being transformed by technology, resource management and government regulations. I would love to hear from people about their thoughts of how we can help navigate, educate and initiate positive pathways to business success for our members.”

Gordon holds a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Colorado Christian University, a bachelor’s degree from Utah Valley University, two associate’s degrees in graphic design and illustration from Salt Lake Community College, and three technology degrees from the United States Marine Corps where she proudly served as a journalist and broadcaster.

In addition to a new director, the IWGA has implemented two more changes from its strategic plan: a new website and a headquarters move. The association offices are moving back to Boise and will share space with the Idaho Cattle Association. The space will also include a Sheep Shop Store.

ASI Photo Contest Winners

The winners of the 2019 ASI Photo Contest are as follows:

Action
First Place: Brent Roeder, Montana, About to Get Western
Second Place: Caleigh Payne, Colorado, Fresh Loop
Third Place: Shelby Rasmusson, Idaho, Long Road

Working Dogs
First Place: Kristin Bieber, Montana, Leading the Charge
Second Place: Nancy Cox Starkey, Maryland, Gyp and Lambs
Third Place: Brad Osguthorpe, Utah, On Guard

Open
First Place: Jenny Osguthorpe, Utah, I See Ewe
Second Place: Dan Conway, Washington, Pause Button
Third Place: Cheri Wyness Robinson, Colorado, Woolly

Scenic East
First Place: Heather Loomis, Pennsylvania, Romeldales in the Mist
Second Place: Violet Louze McComb, West Virginia, While My Dad Works on the Fence
Third Place: Julie Refer, Tennessee, Fall on the Farm

Scenic West
First Place: Caleigh Payne, Colorado, Aspen Maze
Second Place: Mike Patterson, Texas, Sheep and Aspen
Third Place: Jenny Osguthorpe, Utah, Winter Western Range Flock

Click Here to see the winning entries.

ASI Awards Open for Nominations

Once again, it’s time to submit nominations for ASI Awards, which will be presented during the 2020 ASI Annual Convention on Jan. 22-25 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The deadline for all award nominations is Nov. 15.

There are five awards open for nominations: The McClure Silver Ram Award, the Camptender Award, the Distinguished Producer Award, the Industry Innovation Award and the Shepherd’s Voice Award.

The McClure Silver Ram Award is dedicated to volunteer commitment and service and is presented to a sheep producer who has made substantial contributions to the sheep industry and its organizations in his/her state, region or nation. The award may recognize a lifetime of achievement or may recognize a noteworthy, shorter-term commitment and service to the industry.

The Camptender Award recognizes industry contributions from a professional in a position or field related to sheep production. Nominees should show a strong commitment and a significant contribution to the sheep industry, its organizations and its producers above and beyond what is called for in his/her professional capacity. Nominees should be well respected in their fields by their peers and by sheep producers.

The Distinguished Producer Award was launched in 2014 to recognize the 150th anniversary of the national organization – the oldest livestock association in the country. This award is a way to recognize an individual who has had a significant long-term impact on the industry, including involvement with the National Wool Growers Association or American Sheep Producers Council, the predecessor organizations to ASI.

The Industry Innovation Award recognizes the accomplishments of an individual or organization that improves the American sheep industry in a game-changing way, regardless of whether its impact is felt at the regional or national level.

The Shepherd’s Voice Award for Media recognizes outstanding year-long coverage of the sheep industry by either print or broadcast outlets. The award excludes all publications and affiliates related solely to the sheep industry, allowing for recognition of outlets with general coverage for excellence in covering sheep industry issues.

Nominations must be submitted to ASI by Nov. 15, and past recipients of these awards are not eligible. To receive an application, call 303-771-3500 or email info@sheepusa.org. The one-page nomination form can also be downloaded from the website at SheepUSA.org/researcheducation-awards.

APHIS Gathering Vaccine Bank Info

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced in September the availability of a sources sought notice which will be posted for 30 days to gather information from interested vaccine manufacturers on their ability to supply foot-and-mouth disease vaccine.

The announcement was not a solicitation. Information gathered through the sources sought notice will be used to develop a forward-looking acquisition strategy leading to one or more requests for proposals for an increased supply of FMD vaccine for a U.S-only vaccine bank.

For the first time, the 2018 Farm Bill included funding that directly supports animal disease prevention and preparedness, including the creation of a vaccine bank for livestock diseases.

This bank, known as the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank will allow the United States to increase its ability to stockpile veterinary countermeasures. The first priority of the NAVVCB is to acquire and maintain FMD vaccine.

FMD presents a grave threat to the United States livestock industry; even a small outbreak would result in devastating economic and animal health consequences.
The NAVVCB is distinct from the existing North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank, which is a trilateral partnership between the United States Department of Agriculture, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food. The NAVVCB is entirely focused on United States domestic preparedness and is a distinct entity. The United States will continue to participate in the North American Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank and engage in cross-border cooperation for foreign animal disease outbreaks.

More information about the animal health programs established by the 2018 Farm Bill is available at APHIS.USDA.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/farm-bill/farmbill12101.

Obituaries

FRED ITCAINA, 1926-2019
Fred Itcaina passed away on Aug. 10, 2019, at the age of 92.

Ferdinand (Fred) Itcaina was born in Urepel, France, on Sept. 13, 1926, to Juan (Jean) and Leonie (Oyarzun) Itcaina. He was the oldest of seven children, raised on the French side of the Pyrenees Mountains in the Basque Country. He finished school at a young age, worked for his parents tending the livestock, and then served in the French military.

He left his family and homeland and emigrated to the United States in the fall of 1948 planning to go to work for his uncle, Pete Itcaina, at his sheep ranch in Montana. In 1951 his brother, Jean, joined him in Montana.

After gaining experience and learning the operations of a large sheep ranch, the two decided to form the Itcaina Brothers partnership in 1957. They ran their livestock on the Hartmann Ranch and at the Big Warm location. Itcaina loved being out on the open range caring for his sheep and cattle where he could see for miles.

In 1963, he married Evelyn Miller. They had three daughters, Darlene, Rachelle (who passed away shortly after birth) and Beverly. After his uncle passed away in 1967, he and his brother joined John Sallaberry to form a corporation combining their assets and the purchase of the Matador Ranch. As the new owners, they took over operation of the ranch and continued to run both sheep and cattle. In 1981, Beverly passed away and in 1985 Itcaina became a widower. Seven years later, he married Madaline Williamson and his family grew and was blessed with the addition of her four children, Deb, Kathy, Milo and Jack.

Itcaina had memberships in the Montana Wool Growers Association, the National Wool Growers Association and the Montana Stock Growers Association.

He is survived by his daughter, Darlene (Charles) Itcaina-Idehen; four step-children: Deb (Lee) Wolfe, Kathy (Steve) Plettenberg, Milo (Ira) Jennings and Jack (Kelly) Williamson and ten step-grandchildren; as well as step great grandchildren. He had numerous nieces and nephews including Leona (Paul) Siewing and Terri (DJ) La Verdure who were like daughters to him. His three sisters: Marieanne Iribarren, Marie Angele Igoa and Hennriette Itcaina living in France. He is also survived by his lifelong friend, John Sallaberry, who was like a brother to him.

MORTIMER MERTZ, 1923-2019
Mortimer Leonard Mertz, passed away on Aug. 14, 2019, at the age of 95.

A horseman, polo player and livestock man, he was quoted as saying he had a wonderful life and wouldn’t have changed a thing, though maybe it could have rained a little more.

Mertz was born in San Angelo, Texas, on Oct. 18, 1923. His parents, Len and Ernestine Mayer Mertz, were both from early-day ranching and banking families. He graduated third in his class from San Angelo High School in 1941. He was also named All-West Texas as a guard in the 1940 season and was selected to play in the Texas High School coaches All-Star Game in Houston at Rice University Stadium.

He attended Texas A&M from 1941 to 1943 and while in school was on the polo and football teams. In 1947, he graduated with a degree in animal science after serving three years in the Army, including eight months overseas in Europe.

In 1950, Mertz was recalled to active duty and served as Company Commander, Company C, 66th Tank Battalion, 2nd Armored Division in Gonsenheim, Mainz, Germany.

After leaving the service in 1952, Mertz went to work on a ranch he and his brother Joe had purchased in 1949 north of Pie Town, N.M. During the Christmas holidays of 1952 the brothers went home to San Angelo. At a party during their stay, Mertz met Madolyn Powell. The attraction was strong and a year and a half later he left the New Mexico ranch and moved back to Texas. On April 20, 1954, they were married and together they ranched in Irion, Reagan, Crockett and Schleicher counties.

In past years, Mertz served on the Reagan County Agricultural & Stabilization Committee, the Reagan County Water Supply District and the Texas Animal Health Commission. He was also a director of the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, as well as a past president of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers’ Association.

He is survived by his wife Madolyn; three sons and their wives Len and Trish, Mort and Susan, and Michael and Trina; his daughter Susan Slaughter; and his brother Joe, brother-in-law Jimmie Powell and sister-in-law Marolyn Bean. He will also be fondly remembered by his grandchildren, James Mertz, Phillip Mertz, Will Slaughter, Louis Mertz, Lawson Mertz, Madolyn Mertz Brinig, Len Slaughter, Arden Mertz, Chase Mertz, Wyatt Mertz and his seven great-grandchildren.

1999

PETER ORWICK
ASI Executive Director

This fall marks the 20th anniversary of events that changed the sheep industry in this country. Actions by ASI that year still reverberate in our operations and affect the way the industry and the association do business.

In the summer of 1999, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order imposing tariffs on imported lamb from Australia and New Zealand. This was the first time in decades that I could find the United States restricting lamb movement from both those countries at the same time.

Just as importantly, that executive order mandated that our government provide support to the American sheep business via new programs and $100 million in federal support. The White House in 1999 named an official to oversee the trade assistance and a federal committee established among several cabinet agencies to implement the assistance with ASI under a plan the association filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission to improve competitiveness of the lamb business.

Much of this mandate to implement ASI’s plan fell on U.S. Department of Agriculture. First we established an industry group to develop a lamb promotion checkoff – which we began in 1999 – and ASI submitted a checkoff order to USDA a year later. In 2002, USDA had followed up with the necessary legal steps to get American lamb back in the promotion business. It would have been difficult to get the program implemented minus the White House order as USDA had less appetite for another lamb checkoff given their failure to implement a checkoff for lamb in 1996. In addition, pork and beef were having major issues with their programs at the time.

Secondly, ASI devised the mandatory Scrapie Eradication Program under the order and put the first industry-wide animal identification program into effect. The American sheep industry has essentially wiped out that disease in this country since. Recall in 1999 and several years later, every mad cow article had to mention a suspicion that sheep scrapie was the cause of cattle BSE. This was proven false later, but the damage was already done.

Lamb prices in 1999 to 2001 were extremely volatile with one period of 50-cent feeder lambs. ASI brought a USDA payment program forward for feeder/slaughter/retained ewe lambs in the trade assistance that were a large component of a quarter of a billion dollars paid to lamb producers and feeders from 1999 to 2006.

This financial support carried many farms and ranches through the crisis until lamb companies figured out how to pay sustainable prices for lamb.

To add to the impact of 1999, ASI drafted legislation to mandate price reporting of company purchases and sales of lamb and lamb meat. Congress requested that ASI gather a consensus of lamb producers, feeders and companies and they would include our business in legislation implementing similar for beef and pork. ASI shared draft legislation with lamb feeders and companies, but the request for a consensus was soundly rejected by most companies.

Congressional agriculture committees gave ASI one line in the legislation that year, authorizing that the Secretary of Agriculture MAY implement mandatory price reporting for lamb and ASI took that up successfully in rulemaking.

That year had a key impact on ASI as an association. ASI racked up a half million dollars of debt from August 1998 to August 1999 with legal and lobbying expense to win the 201 trade case that resulted in the White House proclamation to support American lamb. Volunteer leaders authorized the sale of ASI assets – including the office – and repayment of all debt not related to the trade case. This allowed a laser focus on fundraising for the next three years.

That year also witnessed ASI rejecting a proposal authored by U.S. textile interests to a congressional battle concerning imports of wool garments from Canada. That decision set in motion a compromise six months later that would come to be known as the Wool Trust.

In April of 1999, USDA Wildlife Services inaugurated the National Wildlife Research facility in Fort Collins, Colo. In June of that year, ASI led industry lobbying to defeat an effort to kill federal funding of Wildlife Services in the U.S. House of Representatives authored by Rep. DeFazio of Oregon. This was the first well organized anti-Wildlife Services campaign, but ASI prevailed winning with a vote of 230 – 193 and not only protected the funds for two decades since but increasing the federal share.

The summer of 1999, Loren Moench Jr. wrapped up his service as ASI president and Cindy Siddoway of Idaho stepped up to serve as president.

My takeaway from this history recital is two-fold. First, a reminder to readers that programs and institutions we use in our business today had to be created and forced into being.

Second, government policy can be helpful or harmful. The events of 1999 could have gone very different but for the vision and political efforts of volunteers elected or hired by sheep producers to ASI and state associations.

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