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ASI Constantly Working to Develop Wool Markets

Rita Samuelson, ASI Deputy Director

ASI President Susan Shultz asked me take her place in this month’s column in an effort to provide American wool growers with some thoughts on where the industry stands heading into the fall. Fortunately, I have some good news to report as we see recovery from 2020 and positive movements in prices.

First, I’d like to say that I hope everyone has survived the difficulties of the past few years – the trade war, a global pandemic, wildfires, drought and floods – and are now thriving as market conditions continue to improve on both the wool and meat side of our industry. It’s during the difficult times like these that I realize just how strong the American sheep industry has become. Much like American wool itself, the men and women who work in this industry are extremely resilient.

Obviously, we’ve all seen the significant growth in fine wool prices in 2021. Prices for coarser wools haven’t grown to the same degree, but we’re constantly on the lookout for new markets for wools in every micron range. As the world looks to turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturing is returning.

Consumers are buying once again – both in person and online. While the outlook remains a bit cloudy at this point, things are definitely looking up compared to a year (or two years) ago. As of the writing of this article, the wool market is 52 percent ahead of where it was at the same time last year and at pre-pandemic levels.

Domestic manufacturing – consisting mostly of uniforms for the U.S. military and Superwashed socks – is a great market for American wool. ASI works with mills to develop new products and the military to maintain, identify and develop new products, as well as technology such as the Superwash process (which renders wool products washable). Although the market is key, limited manufacturing within the United States means that domestic sources purchase 25 to 30 percent or less of the American wool clip each year.

More than two-thirds of all wool produced in the United States heads overseas, where ASI partners with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop and maintain a customer base in countries around the world. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service has provided millions in additional funding since 1989 to support ASI’s efforts through the Quality Samples Program, Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program. Freight delays and added expenses, as well as supply chain shortages and the need for additional labor are a constant battle right now for manufacturers.

But ASI has found ways to adapt to industry challenges. When the pandemic shutdown international travel, the association pivoted in a short amount of time to producing videos and a website that offered international wool buyers a similar experience without leaving the comfort of their home countries. Reverse trade missions are such a key part of our international program, leading directly to the sale of millions of pounds of wool each year. With this program, ASI hosts buyers to educate them about American wool, build relationships and participate in American wool trials, all of which facilitates sales.

The videos we produced took buyers from the farm and ranch to the wool warehouses to the scouring plant and provided a great first impression for buyers unfamiliar with our wool. But they also generated significant buzz on social media, where quarter-over-quarter video views for ASI’s Experience Wool accounts were up nearly 500 percent as consumers found themselves stuck at home during the pandemic.

In addition, we worked with USDA to revamp the Loan Deficiency Program to better reflect current market conditions. This led to a significant change in program rates – for all wools – that provided a true benefit to wool growers.

On the demand side, consumers want to know more about where the wool is coming from and how it is produced. Apparel brands are staying competitive by demonstrating their responsible programs and certifying the goods they use in their products. As a result, a growing number of apparel companies around the world require verification of proper animal care (welfare) that meet international standards for the products they sell. In response to this movement, ASI and Colorado State University developed the science-based American Wool Assurance Program, which is voluntary and tailored to the American sheep industry. It is built to be credible, yet accommodating to participants. AWA will allow American wool to be purchased in various markets that would otherwise be unattainable. Product assurances are a growing requisite and buyers report premiums being paid for certified wools.

ASI is also aware that there’s a need for additional shearers in the United States, and in the next two years will revamp programs to produce the next generation of shearers. This will include year-round training for motivated beginners, mentor programs and advanced shearing school training. ASI will continue to identify and maintain all possible markets so producers can benefit. Our industry is as versatile and resilient as our fiber, so we will continue to adapt to future demands and thrive.

Structural Changes in Mainstream Market

JULIE STEPANEK SHIFLETT, PH.D.
Juniper Economic Consulting

The American sheep industry is undergoing profound structural changes, integrating the ethnic market into the mainstream market. The lightweight lambs – often marketed in the ethnic channels – are being assimilated into heavyweight lamb marketing channels from harvest to foodservice.

For the first time reported in August, dressed weights for lambs in the heavyweight market dipped below 60 lbs., indicating that lighterweight lambs are being harvested in mainstream channels, pulling down the average dressed weight. Changes in market structure can affect market pricing and market performance.
In August, commercial harvest numbers remained tight, supporting the live lamb market and wholesale market. Estimated lamb harvest numbers totaled 1.19 million head in January to August, down 1 percent year-on-year. Estimated lamb production totaled 55.4 million lbs. in this same period, down 4 percent from a year ago.

While tight supplies support prices, strong demand also plays a role. Domestic supplies are tight, but imports have increased year-over-year, easing lamb availability. In late August in ABC Rural News Australia, analyst Simon Quilty of Global Agritrends reported that lamb “is the new Wagyu. Not because of taste reasons, but because it truly is starting to sit in that niche end of the market, and being somewhat resistant to fluctuations as commodities go up and down.”

In January to July, total lamb imports were up 19 percent to 146.6 million lbs. Australian lamb imports in the first seven months of the year were 106.7 million lbs., up 14 percent from last year and New Zealand lamb imports were up 33 percent to 37.4 million lbs.

Total lamb exports during January to July was 240,000 lbs., down 22 percent year-on-year. The only significant lamb exports were to Mexico. Mexico is a significant market for American lamb exports where shipments increased during the last year from March to June. Total mutton exports were down 87 percent year-on-year to 1.4 million lbs. during the same period.

Lower freezer stocks and Colorado feedlot inventories reveal lower mainstream lamb availability relative to past years. Lamb and mutton in cold storage has held relatively low and steady in June to August. At the beginning of August, 21 million lbs. of lamb and mutton was in the freezers, down 2 percent monthly and down
53 percent year-on-year. In September, 132,347 lambs were on-feed in Colorado feedlots, a three-year high. Feedlot inventory was 87 percent higher than September 2020 and 32 percent higher than September’s five-year average.

 

Feeder Lamb Prices Mixed

Feeder lamb prices were mixed across markets in August, yet remained an average 55 percent higher year-on-year.

San Angelo, Texas, feeder lambs (60 to 90 lbs.) averaged $276 per cwt. in August – up 4 percent monthly. Fort Collins, Colo., feeders gained 2 percent monthly to $247.65 per cwt., and Sioux Falls, S.D., feeders were down 4 percent to $252.93 per cwt.

Western Video Sheep Video/Internet Auction in Cottonwood, Calif., reported that feeder lambs selling out of the North Central United States averaged $272.35 per cwt. for 90 to 98 lb. lambs.

Northern Livestock Sheep Video/Internet Auction out of Billings, Mont., reported feeder lambs averaging $272.80 to $291.00 per cwt. for 77 to 95 lbs. in the North-Central region. It also reported 85 to 110 lbs. feeders selling for $265 to $284.50 per cwt. out of the West.

The Superior Livestock Sheep Video Auction reported 80-lb. feeders selling for $285 per cwt. out of the North Central United States. It also reported 90-lb. feeders trading at $264 per cwt. out of the South-Central United States. Hair lambs were also reported, selling at $311 per cwt. for 60-lb. feeders.

 

Slaughter Lamb Market Cools

Slaughter lamb prices exhibited historical seasonal behavior in August and weakened marginally from July. Prices were expected to soften again in September before strengthening toward the December holidays. In general in the past few years, slaughter lamb prices have strengthened and slaughter weights have trended lighter.

In August, live, negotiated slaughter lamb prices moderated at $261.46 per cwt., weakening 0.5 percent monthly. Prices were not reported last summer. Prices of slaughter lambs at the San Angelo auction averaged $208.83 per cwt. in August, down 1 percent monthly, yet 76 percent higher year-on-year. Auction prices of slaughter lambs in Sioux Falls saw $254.17 per cwt., down 9 percent monthly and 110 percent higher from a year ago.

 

Higher Replacement Sheep Prices

Will higher lamb prices prompt sheep inventory expansion? Replacement sheep prices can shed light on producer price expectations and inventory intensions.

On average, replacement lambs and sheep prices in the second trimester – May to August – were up 44 percent from a year ago, and 23 percent higher from two years ago. In May to August, 12-to-24-month yearling ewes averaged $243.03 per cwt., up 71 percent year-over-year; young ewes (2 to 4 years) averaged $208.75 per cwt., up 58 percent; middle-aged ewes (5 to 6 years) averaged $169.52 per cwt., up 29 percent; and aged ewes (more than 6 years) saw $114.54 per cwt, up 19 percent.

Higher lamb prices can entice more producers to invest in flock expansion, but there are real challenges that can increase sheep costs of production, thereby incentivizing flock contractions and even threaten producer exits from the industry. Key costs include feed (higher for many given the Western drought), labor (availability and price of herders and shearers), predators and market access.

There are planned wage increases for H-2A sheepherders in California and Colorado in 2022. In the September issue of the Sheep Industry News, it was reported that the California Wool Growers Association cited a potential wage bill increase from $4.6 million in 2022 to $8.3 million by 2025. The Colorado herder wage increase will jump from $1,727 to $2,060 per month in 2022.

 

Slaughter Ewes Top $1

Slaughter ewe prices have also seen a significant uptick. During the past 10 years, prices of the highest-quality ewes bounced around 60 to 70 cents per lb., but topped 80 cents last year and more than $1 in January to August. This August, good 2-3 San Angelo slaughter ewes at auction averaged $105.32 per cwt., the sixth month this year where prices topped $1 per lb.

 

Wholesale Market Remains Hot

The wholesale lamb market continued its upward charge into August, with a 65 percent gain since January. The lamb market is a niche market, somewhat insulated from the demand and supply influences that prompt price fluctuations in commodity markets. The lamb wholesale market is currently high because demand is strong relative to supply – even with an increase in imports – and lamb is being supported by current high beef prices, which are up 50 percent compared to last year.

The net carcass value averaged $629.20 per cwt. in August, up 12 percent monthly and 75 percent higher year-on-year.

The 8-rib rack, medium, averaged $1433.68 per cwt., 8 percent higher monthly; the shoulder, square-cut, saw $559.95 per cwt. in August, 16 percent higher; the loin, trimmed 4×4, saw $1,019.10 per cwt., a 10 percent increase from July; and the leg, trotter-off, averaged $607.34 per cwt., 7 percent higher monthly.
Ground lamb averaged $859.09 per cwt. in August, up 6 percent from July and 49 percent higher year-on-year.

 

American Raw Wool Exports Slow to Recover

The Australian wool market started off its post-recess season lower than expected amid fears that the COVID-19 Delta variant in China is dampening demand, according to Australia Farm Online in mid-August. Finer wools saw the largest losses while medium microns remained robust into the later-half of August. Farm Online continued that other markets such as India, Italy and the Czech Republic “showed similar support to the market that was apparent pre-recess.”

In August, the Australian Eastern Market Indicator averaged Australian cents 1,352 per kg clean, down 5 percent monthly and 39 percent higher than a year ago. In U.S. dollars, the EMI saw $4.47 per lb. clean in August, down 7 percent monthly and up 41 percent from a year ago.

American raw wool is slow to regain pre-COVID export levels. American wool exports from the beginning of its season in October to June are up this year compared to the COVID-19 volumes that sold in 2019-20, but remain sharply lower than the same period two years ago. Total raw wool exports October to June were 5 million lbs., down 63 percent from two years ago, and up 37 percent from the same period last year. There is a concern that a significant amount of wool remains in storage although a lot of wool traded this season. Domestic wool remains in local storage facilities and on-farm storage. There is a notable amount of wool in the latter category – especially coarse wools and carding wools, the majority of which used to go to China.

Further processed American wool textile exports were able to rebound more fully than raw wool and wool top exports. Exports of total wool textiles were 59.9 million lbs. in October to June, down 6 percent from two years ago, but 30 percent higher than last year.

Unlike other categories, wool home furnishings – at 644,000 lbs. – were 20 percent higher this year than two years ago, and up 15 percent from a year ago.

Options Abound for Testing of Wool

The return of large-scale, commercial wool testing in the United States took a gigantic step forward in the past two months with the installation of new equipment from Australia at the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory in San Angelo, Texas.

But that isn’t the only option for domestic wool testing for American wool growers who might want to test individual fleeces in their flock. ASI – along with others in the United States – offer testing instruments designed to assist producers in improving their wool quality. Let’s take a closer look at the options that exist.

 

TEXAS A&M

The New Zealand Wool Testing Authority has handled much of the work the past two years after the closure of Yocom-McColl and owner Angus McColl’s many years of service to the industry. ASI, domestic wool warehouses and buyers, and others had been contemplating the future of wool testing in the country for many years before deciding on a way to proceed at a meeting in the summer of 2019.

Industry leaders made a formal commitment at the 2020 ASI Annual Convention to team with the Texas lab – based at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center – to develop a world-class testing facility that could meet all of the industry’s needs. ASI’s for-profit Sheep Venture Company and the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center both committed funds to expand and modernize the lab, which recently celebrated 100 years of wool testing as it installed new equipment to set the stage for the next 100 years.

Equipment purchased from the Australian Wool Testing Authority arrived at the Port of Houston in August and was trucked to San Angelo for installation. As of mid-September, the installation process was nearly complete and staff at the lab were set to begin remote training with AWTA. The lab will handle commercial wool testing of the 2022 American wool clip.

“The two scour systems will wash six 75 gm wool samples approximately every seven minutes, and the two dryers can dry 24 wool samples every 30 minutes,” said Dr. Dawn Brown, lab manager.

The lab already has a generous supply of core samples on hand to use in perfecting the testing process and assuring accuracy and consistency with other international labs before officially opening its doors.

“They will help us to not only perfect our testing processes, but also as a means to create a U.S. wool NIR equation,” Brown added. “Utilizing NIR for determination of residual grease and ash impurities will greatly improve turnaround time for results. Many of the wool warehouses and some individuals have sent samples, and we thank them. NZWTA has also sent residual American wool samples from the 2020 clip. The 2021 clip samples will be shipped soon.”

To learn more, visit SanAngelo.TAMU.edu/bsl.

 

MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY

MSU will be expanding and modernizing their lab with a recent bill passed by the state legislature approved $5 million in funding.

The lab was originally funded in 1945. It was incorporated into the MSU Department of Animal and Range Sciences in the 1980s. The lab analyzes wool from producers across the United States for fiber characteristics, such as diameter and staple length, ultimately helping producers improve the quality and consistency of their clip.

Learn more at AnimalRange.Montana.edu/facilities/woollab.html.

 

OFDA 2000

There are several universities and companies around the United States who offer testing via the Optical Fiber Diameter Analyzer. Producers interested in measuring and eventually improving wool quality should consider contacting these groups for testing services. These tests are not used for commercial sale.

OFDA 2000 testing is available from: the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory, the Montana State University Wool Lab, the North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Center, the University of Nevada-Reno, Producers Marketing Cooperative Inc. in Texas, Wasatch Wool Laboratories in Utah, LM Livestock Services in South Dakota and the ASI office. In most cases, ASI owns the machines and leases the units to these organizations to help producers improve their wool quality at a low cost.

 

FIBRELUX

A FibreLux is also available for rent through ASI. It can be shipped to American wool producers – for a fee – and is suitable for use anywhere from a laboratory to the farm or ranch. While the results are not for use in commercial sales, they do provide information about a grower’s wool clip that can be used to estimate a fleece’s micron. The FibreLux is suitable for use with fine and medium type wools.

USSES Hosts Wildlife Interface Stakeholders

In late August, ASI convened the second meeting of the Wildlife Interface Stakeholder Group at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho.

The working group was first conceived in 2019, with ASI and the Wild Sheep Foundation working jointly to seek long-term solutions to issues that were holding up progress on research programs at the station. The basis of the diverse working group is that the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station has value to the sheep industry, rangeland management agencies, land owners, conservation groups, rural communities and to the general West.

Since that initial meeting, the working group has grown to include additional stakeholders.

This year’s stakeholders included: the Idaho Wool Growers Association, Idaho Farm Bureau, University of Idaho, Wild Sheep Foundation, Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation and Greater Yellowstone Coalition, as well as representatives of Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho) and Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch (both of Idaho). Also on hand were representatives from the Clark County Commissioners and ASI.
The meeting included an outdoor tour of the station’s properties, conducted by USSES Director Dr. J. Bret Taylor and Dr. Hailey Wilmer, the station’s new research rangeland management specialist.

The outdoor tour focused on the Henninger and Humphry properties while showcasing the sheep and rangelands with many guest appearances by the livestock protection dogs. The tour provided a good overview of the ongoing research at the station, and concluded with a meeting at the Dubois Community Center where the groups discussed their policy priorities and objectives in order to find consensus for broad support and future funding of the station.

This effort has already shown benefits in building collaboration to get the station off the USDA closure list and increase appropriations to hire additional full-time research staff. While the groups don’t agree on everything, there was great consensus around addressing predator conflicts, rangeland research, preserving the value of the station for sheep operations, and continuing research into the pathogen M. ovi and genetic markers.

The group will work to present those priorities to the station and is preparing to meet again in August of 2022 at the University of Idaho.

ASI Photo Contest Winners Announced

Larry Blain of Utah and Caleigh Payne of Colorado each picked up three checks in the 2021 American Sheep Industry Association Photo Contest.

Blain placed first in the open category, second in the scenic west category and third in the working animals category. Payne took first in scenic west and second in both the shepherd/shepherdess and open categories. In addition, Colorado’s Amy Kruckenberg earned two checks with a first-place finish in the shepherd/shepherdess category and a second-place finish in working animals.

Here’s a complete list of winners:

  • Open: Blain, 2. Payne, 3. Mary Jean Owens of Texas.
  • Shepherd/Shepherdess: Amy Kruckenberg of Colorado, 2. Payne, 3. Brianna Matchett of Michigan.
  • Scenic East: Carrie Flores of Wisconsin, 2. Maddie Lilly of Virginia, 3. Sarah Karvakko of Minnesota.
  • Scenic West: Payne, 2. Blain, 3. Ashley Carreiro-Loyd of California.
  • Working Animals: Kay Benson of Utah, 2. Kruckenberg, 3. Blain.

See the October issue of the Sheep Industry News for the winning photos.

ASI Awards Open for Nominations

Once again, it’s time to submit nominations for ASI Awards, which will be presented during the 2022 ASI Annual Convention on Jan. 19-22, 2022, in San Diego, Calif. The deadline for all award nominations is Nov. 19.

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 groups 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. 19, 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.

Obituary

MIKE JERNIGAN, 1951-2021

Mike Jernigan, 69, of Iraan, Texas, died on Sept. 1, 2021. Mike was born on Dec. 14, 1951, to Emmett and Mary Jernigan in Monahans, Texas.

He graduated from Monahans High School in 1970 and was an accomplished athlete in multiple sports. His football career continued at Angelo State University and after graduation he began teaching and coaching high school football. His passion and love for horses led him to meet the love of his life – Mary Jo Hyde – who he married on Nov. 29, 1974, in Ozona, Texas. He and Mary Jo moved to Iraan soon after and Mike began ranching full time. Mike and Mary Jo have two daughters, Regan and Landry, and enjoyed a 46-year marriage.

Mike held leadership positions – both volunteer and elected – in statewide and national agricultural organizations including The American Sheep Industry Association, Texas State Predator Control Board (president), Texas Sheep & Goat Raiser’s Association (president), American Boer Goat Association, Producers Co-Op (board member) and American Rambouillet Association. Mike felt called to volunteer his time and efforts to help his fellow ranchers and to influence the agriculture industry in positive ways.

He loved working on the ranch with horses and livestock and he also loved spending his free time with his wife, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren. He loved to travel, watch rodeos and go to all the various sports that his grandchildren were involved in. His grandkids were the light of his life. He drove hours to watch baseball tournaments, cheer competitions, football games, softball games and basketball games – he did not want to miss a minute.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents Emmett and Mary Jernigan, father-in-law Rod Richardson, father-in-law Jack Hyde, and grandson Cy Crump.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Jo Jernigan, daughter Regan Crump and husband David, daughter Landry McNeese, grandsons Carter, Cole, and Creed Crump, granddaughters Berkley and Tenley McNeese, sister Rhonda Hogan and husband Bob, brother Jay Jernigan and wife Nita, mother-in-law Marie Richardson, sister-in-law Ann Giardini, sister-in-law Jackie Edwards and husband John, and numerous nieces and nephews.

You’ve Got a Month to Submit Entries in the ASI Photo Contest

We’re down to the final month of the 2019 ASI Photo Contest, and I wanted to take a moment to remind EVERYONE to send in their photos.

This is the fifth photo contest we’ve had since I joined ASI in May 2015, and it seems every year I hear similar comments from groups that appear to be under represented among our winners. Comments such as:

• Why didn’t someone from my state win?

• Why weren’t there any winning photos of (fill in the blank with your favorite sheep breed)?

• Why were there so many winners from Montana, or California or Utah, etc.?

• Why didn’t you choose any hair sheep photos?

And the answer to each of these questions is that we can only select winners from the photos we receive. For instance, we get few photos from producers in the southeast, so the odds of a photo from one of those states being selected among our winners is slim. Likewise, I can count on one hand the number of hair sheep photos we’ve received each of the past four years.

The answer is as simple as, “I can’t choose a photo that I didn’t receive.” You’ve got a month to sort through your existing photos or to go out and take new ones to send our way.

Keep in mind also, that most of the ASI office staff participates in voting on the winners. ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick and Deputy Director Rita Samuelson grew up on sheep ranches and certainly look at photos differently than some of the rest of the staff. There’s no way to distinguish exactly what each voter is looking for in a great photo. Wool Marketing Coordinator Christa Rochford, for example, will always vote for a dog photo over a non-dog photo. I’m afraid that the addition of a working dog category this year is going to make her head explode. Either that or she’ll have 12 first-place winners in that category.

I’d also like to make a few observations for those submitting photos:

• Send me the largest file size you can take with your camera or phone. If you look back at our October issue from the past four years – where we feature the winning entries – you’ll see that I want to run the winning photos big. After all, if it is a good enough photo to win, why would I want to run it the size of a postcard? Horizontal photos tend to get run as a two-page spread, while vertical photos will be run over a full page. My email can accept large attachments, so please don’t reduce photo sizes before submitting them. If you’re email doesn’t like large file sizes, sign up for a free gmail account and send it from there. If all else fails, go to your local Costco, Walmart, etc., have them print the photo and mail it to us.

• Taking photos from a distance is great if you’re trying to show off a landscape, but otherwise close-up photos work best. I want to be able to see expressions on the faces of the sheep, dogs and people featured in your photos. If your photo looks like one of those blurry images of Sasquatch that shows up on TV news every once in a while, then it’s probably not going to win an award.

• We receive an average of about 300 photos for each year’s contest, but only 15 photos are selected to place in the top three of each of our five categories. The odds are stacked against you when it comes to winning. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t like your photo. Win or not, there’s a chance we will use your photo in the Sheep Industry News or another publication down the road. For instance, since October of 2018, I’ve used five 2018 photo contest entries on the cover of the magazine (including this issue). Not a single one of those photos took home an award last year, but they are all great photos.

Remember that entries are due Aug. 1 this year. You can find official rules for the contest by visiting our website at Sheepusa.org/ Newsmedia_WeeklyNewsletter_2019_May_May102019_SendAsiYourSheepDogPhotosIn2019 or in the June issue of the Sheep Industry News.

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