ASI Releases EID Project Video
The American Sheep Industry Association conducted a small pilot project at the Delta (Colo.) Sales Yard to evaluate the feasibility of integrating an electronic identification system for sheep in an auction market setting to determine the benefits it could provide to the auction market, federal and state animal health officials, and producers.
The objectives of this project were to 1. assess the technology with respect to current business practices and the speed of commerce, and 2. identify the needs and gaps in implementing an EID system for sheep at auction markets.
Auction markets differ across regions and species. Relatively few auction markets have the infrastructure or resources available for implementing an EID system. Examples of infrastructure deficits include but are not limited to facility design, outdated management software, technological advancements, business practices and cost. Many auction markets do not have the equipment for the proper handling of sheep.
If EID becomes commonplace, the lack of infrastructure to support an EID system will be encountered at other auction markets and will require needed changes regarding software programs, business practices, facility design modifications and cost in transitioning from a visual to an EID system. Recognizing there are notable differences across auction markets is critical when transitioning to an EID system.
Many auction markets are hesitant to implement EID systems due to concerns on the potential impacts to the speed of commerce, business operations and the return on their investment for the additional infrastructure costs to accommodate the EID reader and management software.
ASI promotes the training of proper sheep handling and encourages auction markets to be uncompromising in their employees handling and welfare standards for sheep. Auction market employees might need to be trained in the proper handling of sheep as animal welfare is more than just an ethical decision; it is imperative to a successful business.
The ASI pilot project was helpful in gaining an understanding of the needs and challenges that markets have to converting to an EID system. It is clear that if an animal health emergency were to occur today, an EID only requirement would not be feasible because the infrastructure is not in place to effectively utilize the technology. Although not insurmountable, significant resources are needed to get to a place where EID could be utilized in an animal health emergency. If the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to move in this direction, it will need to make such investments.
Click Here to watch a video about the project. ASI hopes the information in this video is useful and is appreciative of the assistance of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in carrying out the pilot project.
Research Update Podcast: Genetic Selection Tools
This month’s ASI Research Update podcast is now available as Ron Lewis, Ph.D., offers an Overview of Genetic Selection Tools.
“Making the right genetic selection decisions is critical in sheep production, but this can be challenging because the impacts of our decisions today may take years to be realized,” said podcast host Jake Thorne of Texas. “Luckily, technology to help in this process is constantly being developed and refined, resulting in tools such as estimated breeding values from the National Sheep Improvement Program.”
Such tools can provide a clearer picture for sheep producers. Lewis, the NSIP Technical Committee chair, joins the podcast to share the tools that he’s so passionate about seeing used in the American sheep industry.
Click Here to listen to the podcast.
Australian Wool Market Falters After Break
The Australian wool market eased again this series, falling for the second consecutive selling week. Sales resumed after the one-week Easter recess and due to the break in selling, the national offering understandably rose as more than 50,000 bales were on offer.
There were anecdotal reports that the business being done by exporters was at levels slightly below the current market, prompting many observers to believe that the market would be cheaper. Although by the end of the series the market did record an overall drop, the falls were not as large as predicted and there were in fact positive movements recorded.
The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator fell by 11 cents for the series, closing at 1,289 Australian cents. The EMI is now at its lowest point since December. The EMI is now 78 cents lower than the same time last year – a fall of 5.7 percent.
Currency continues to play a large role in market movements, both this week and in the past year. The Australian dollar is currently trading more than 7.5 cents lower than the corresponding sale of the previous season. This means that when viewed in U.S. dollar terms, the EMI is 156 cents lower than the same time last season – a substantial drop of 15.3 percent.
The Fremantle region went against the trend seen in the Eastern states, recording solid increases across fleece types, particularly in wool carrying less than 1 percent vegetable matter. At this time of year, these types are in limited supply nationally. The Merino fleece MPGs in the West added between 5 and 26 cents, while the Western Market Indicator rose by 3 cents. Only a lackluster skirting and oddment market prevented a larger rise.
Next week, sales will be held on Wednesday and Thursday to accommodate the Anzac Day Public Holiday. The national offering falls to 44,901 bales.
ALB Releases Final Lamb Quality Video
The American Lamb Board has released the final video in a five-part series emphasizing lamb quality. The videos are funded in part by Premier 1 Supplies and produced by North Dakota State University. Travis Hoffman, Ph.D., North Dakota State University and University of Minnesota Extension Sheep Specialist, spearheaded the project.
Retail Meat Yield is the topic of the final video, which follows the theme for the series of beginning with the end in mind. The purpose of the series is to help the American lamb industry provide a consistently high-quality product for the dinner plate of American lamb consumers.
“By emphasizing lean meat growth in U.S. sheep, we can make lambs with more muscle and less fat and improved yield and value, which increases our commercial lamb industry competitiveness with imported lamb and other animal protein sources,” says Peter Camino, ALB chair from Buffalo, Wyo. “As progressive sheep producers, it is in our best interest to produce a protein product that consistently meets our consumers expectations and delights their taste buds.”
Trim, muscular lambs harvested at the appropriate time return value for the entire American sheep and lamb industry. In Retail Meat Yield, producers learn about important strategies for improving our supply chain lean meat yield. Awareness of retail meat yield and factors that impact dressing percentage and lamb fabrication cutout provide an assurance of expectations for producers who market lambs and for consumers that purchase American lamb in grocery stores or restaurants.
Age, breed type, size and body composition all play a part in grading and carcass cutability. The video series considers the wide variety of production systems used by American lamb producers, as each strives to work with their own specific production factors.
PLC Calls for Project Proposals
The Public Lands Council has launched a formal request for proposals to find research ideas designed to strengthen the long-term viability of livestock production on the nation’s public lands. Tailored to producer-designed research questions each year, the RFP for Fiscal Year 2024 focuses on key themes, including:
- Comparative efficacies of prescribed grazing and prescribed fire in wildfire mitigation.
- Ecological, social or economic impacts on federal lands ranching communities caused by increased recreation or other changes in multiple use.
- Costs of implementation of the Endangered Species Act
Click Here for the entire list of desired proposal themes.
“Public lands ranchers have been passing down their knowledge and acquired skills from one generation to the next for centuries. Yet, there is still so much we can do by harnessing new research and innovations to ensure we will be able to pass on our way of life to many more generations to come,” said PLC President and Colorado rancher Mark Roeber. “This open call for research proposals continues the decades of work to proactively bolster the ranching industry and back up what ranchers are seeing on the ground with hard evidence that can be shown to federal agencies and Congress. No industry produces more with less than public lands ranching and PLC is working every day to protect that way of life.”
With more than 22,000 public lands ranchers maintaining more than 250 million acres of public land, livestock production and grazing on federal lands contributes to the economic and social sustainability of America’s rural communities.
PLC Hiring Associate Director
The Public Lands Council is hiring an associate director of operations to join the Washington, D.C., office. This role also supports and assists the executive director in communicating with PLC affiliates and managing day-to-day business operations, as well as managing annual grants, sponsor relationships and more:
- Works with National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and PLC accounting staff to prepare and distribute yearly PLC affiliate dues invoices, process officer and staff expense reports and manage other financial transactions.
- Assists in planning national PLC meetings including logistics, budget, sponsorships and agenda.
- Assists the executive director with the administration of the Public Lands Endowment Trust, including communication and coordination with grantees to ensure contracts are executed timely.
- Actively engages with volunteer leadership to book travel, organize agendas and engage with other planning tasks.
This is a shared position with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Click Here to apply. The application period is open until the position has been filled.
USDA Announces Grants to Expand Meat Processing
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week the availability of up to $125 million through two new grant programs that will create more options for meat and poultry farmers by investing in independent, local meat and poultry processing projects that increase competition and enhance the resiliency of the food supply chain.
These new grant programs – the Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program and the Local Meat Capacity Grant Program – are part of the broader $1 billion American Rescue Plan investment by the Biden-Harris Administration to expand processing capacity for small and midsized meat and poultry processors.
“This is the latest step in USDA’s transformational work to fill gaps and help small and underserved producers market their products, support thriving local and regional food systems by investing in processing capacity that’s closer to farms, and alleviate major bottlenecks in food and agricultural supply chains,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Importantly, we’re also taking steps to increase the overall availability of protein from indigenous animals like bison, reindeer and salmon, which have been the backbone of tribal food systems for generations.”
Since July 2021, for example, USDA has worked with 30 businesses to expand their operations through Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Project grants and has helped many more work toward a federal grant of inspection through Meat and Poultry Inspection Readiness Grants. More information on USDA’s work to fulfill this commitment can be found at usda.gov/meat.
Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program
This new grant program will provide up to $50 million to improve tribal nations’ food and agricultural supply chain resiliency by developing and expanding value-added infrastructure related to meat from indigenous animals like bison, reindeer or salmon. The program will fund projects that focus on expanding local capacity for the harvesting, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling or distribution of indigenous meats.
Eligible applicants are Indian tribes, as defined by the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, as well as wholly-owned arms and instrumentalities, and joint or multi-tribal government entities. USDA partners with tribal-serving organizations on projects to reimagine federal food and agriculture programs from an indigenous perspective and inform future USDA programs and policies.
More information is available on USDA’s Indigenous Animals Grants webpage. Applications will be accepted through July 19.
Local Meat Capacity Grant Program
The Local Meat Capacity Grant program will provide up to $75 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to build resilience in the meat and poultry supply chain by providing producers with more local processing options and strengthening their market potential. This grant program is targeted to support meat and poultry processors with smaller-scale projects, with a goal to increase processing availability and variety for local and regional livestock producers.
The Local Meat Capacity Grants will fund both expansion and equipment-only projects through a competitive grant process. USDA encourages applicants to engage with livestock producers, especially small and underserved ranchers.
More information is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Local MCap webpage. Applications will be accepted through July 19.
Legislative Update from Washington, D.C.
The American Sheep Industry Association’s lobbying firm – Cornerstone Government Affairs – offered an update this week on legislative issues in our nation’s capital.
House Ag Committee Hearing on Disease Prevention
On Tuesday, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry held a hearing titled, A Review of USDA Animal Disease Prevention and Response Efforts.
Republicans and Democrats alike commended the work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in reducing the risk of animal diseases. Members asked the witnesses about the APHIS response to threats such as African Swine Fever, highly pathogenic avian influenza, Chronic Wasting Disease and foot-and-mouth disease. Other topics discussed include vaccination strategies, trade, public outreach and communication, and veterinary shortages at APHIS and at large.
Western Ranchers Reeling After Tough Winter
After years of dealing with droughts, ranchers in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico are now struggling with snowpack levels 150 percent above the 20-year median, raising concerns about potential flooding.
While the increased precipitation has helped refill reservoirs, added moisture to parched soil and helped recover dried rangelands, it has also limited ranchers’ access to herd feed and solid, dry land for lambing and calving. Large snow drifts covering rangelands have prevented flocks and herds from reliable access to grazing, forcing many producers to turn to expensive supplemental feed alternatives.
Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming State Agriculture Departments sent a joint letter to Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux asking for flexibility and new alternatives to expand eligibility for emergency programs to assist farmers in need. The administrator acknowledged the severity of the situation and expressed that programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm Raised Fish Program could be helpful to livestock producers and offset additional costs in their time of need.