ASI SheepCast: New Legislation, 30-by-30 & Tax Policy
This week’s ASI SheepCast looks at new bills of interest introduced in both chambers of Congress, push back on President Biden’s 30-by-30 executive order and tax policy in light of the president’s address to a joint session of Congress.
Click Here to listen to the podcast.
Ranchers Can Provide Expertise to Reach 30 by 30
In the wake of Earth Week, the Biden administration is due to release details about its efforts to conserve at least 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.
What started in California as a localized effort has become the singular environmental rallying cry for politicos in 2021. Details about how the administration plans to achieve “30 by 30,” to date, have been few and far between. In the place of clear and definitive information has been the administration’s call for public feedback. Uncertainty can breed fear, but it also creates space for innovation and leadership.
Public lands ranchers are conservation experts. Sheep and cattle producers have been able to cultivate healthy ecosystems on their private lands and leverage that environmental success onto the federal grazing allotments they manage. They are the ranchers, the original environmentalists, who look at an open pasture and know they have improved carbon storage, plant diversity and thriving wildlife habitats.
Ranchers know that to get where you’re going, you need to first know where you are. This baseline of what will be counted as part of the 30 percent must include diverse landscapes, management styles and ownerships. The administration should “count” and focus on the conservation activities that improve ecosystems and environmental outcomes, particularly those that encourage further conservation in the future.
There are many existing tools the administration can leverage. Ranchers employ federal conservation programs like EQIP and CRP across millions of acres and multiply environmental investments on private land for the good of the whole ecosystem. Active stewardship on private lands make the surrounding public lands more appealing and healthier too, including for imperiled species. More than 80 percent of endangered and threatened species have critical habitat on private land, so the administration must support the voluntary conservation efforts – and the ranchers who undertake them – that are already so successful.
There are opportunities on public lands, as well. Federal agencies already own more than 28 percent of lands in the United States: 640 million acres, most of which is located in the West. Ranchers are the front-line managers on a little more than one-third of those acres. The administration should work with ranchers who improve the health of federal lands by using grazing to turn forests, rangelands and grasslands into the carbon-storing, wildlife-supporting, highly resilient ecosystems we see on federal grazing allotments. Ranchers’ management is based on hard data and landscape monitoring that allows them to adjust their grazing activities to make forest lands and watersheds more resilient to environmental and climactic threats. Without question, federal grazing permits – complete with this annual monitoring, environmental safeguards, and nimble adjustments – provide the kind of durable, long-term conservation 30 by 30 is looking for.
Click Here to read the full opinion piece from Kaitlynn Glover of the Public Lands Council.
Source: Public Lands Council
Consumers Still Want Meat, But Not As Much
Eating meat is still the norm, according to the Power of Meat report by 210 Analytics that looked at trends among 1,501 representative American shoppers along with actual retail purchases. The survey addressed all meat – imported and domestic – sold through retail food outlets during the 52 weeks prior to Dec. 27, 2020. The report was sponsored by CRYOVAC and presented at the Food Marketing Institute 2021 Meat Conference.
The report showed that 71 percent of consumers identify as meat eaters. Vegetarians/vegans accounted for 6 percent of consumers, following a 16-year pattern of 5 to 7 percent. Pescatarians – those who eat fish, but not meat – came in at 4 percent, while flexitarians – those who primarily follow a vegetarian diet with occasional meat consumption – constituted the fastest growing segment at 19 percent.
Flexitarians gained 9 percentage points compared to 2019. During the same period, meat eaters lost 14 points. Reasons most cited by flexitarians for their choices include health concerns perceived to be associated with red meat, and the use of antibiotics, hormones and chemicals. As the swing voters of the industry, 31 percent of flexitarians cite a focus on quality over quantity, and 30 percent say they sometimes make their consumer choices to save money.
The issues affecting consumer choice often overlap. And all are influenced by cost, with premium prices sometimes inhibiting people from fully acting on their beliefs. Still, nearly all consumers value transparency by brands and retailers when making their decisions.
“Information such as this study helps guide American Lamb Checkoff priorities,” says Gwen Kitzan, American Lamb Board chairman.
Overall, 76 percent of shoppers feel meat should be part of a healthy, balanced diet – an increase from 64 percent in 2020. Only 67 percent of flexitarians agree. Low-carb diets continue to be popular, and consumers want protein highlighted with in-store marketing.
The importance of meat in the diet seems to change with age. Younger consumers are less interested. The survey showed 79 percent of Baby Boomers say meat belongs in a healthy, balanced diet. Gen X registered 80 percent, older Millennials 76 percent, younger Millennials 71 percent, and only 66 percent of Gen Z agreed.
The percentage of consumers who recognize meat as an important nutrient source declined from 82 percent in 2015 to 75 percent in 2021. When making what they consider to be healthful meat and poultry purchase decisions, 30 percent say they avoid second helpings and 18 percent cut portion size.
For many, their choices are closely connected to the environment. If they can’t afford the quality meat they want, they will buy less, rationalizing that buying plant-based products instead is good for both the planet and makes them feel good about themselves.
Transparency fosters trust and 55 percent of surveyed consumers think it is important for grocery stores and meat/poultry brands to provide information on how and where livestock was raised and processed; that’s 70 percent for flexitarians.
The report says 44 percent of consumers believe the meat/poultry they buy comes from humanely treated animals; 16 percent say they do not, and 40 percent responded that they don’t know. As for the information they receive about the topic, 39 percent of surveyed consumers say they receive enough; 35 percent say they do not. When asked to define animal welfare, 60 percent say it involves access to outdoors and handling during slaughter, 58 percent mention the amount of living space, 57 percent cite the type of food an animal eats and 55 percent say the avoidance of growth hormones/steroids.
Pounds purchased of claims-based meat grew by 33.3 percent, while organic meat claims led to an 18.5-percent increase in consumer purchases. Around 83 percent say they are attracted to product labeling that emphasizes a product is better for the consumer or their family in some way; 34 percent say they want a product labeled better for the planet, 29 percent for farmers/workers, and 27 percent better for the animals.
The planet is the second greatest influencer of meat choices, with 60 percent of respondents saying they try to do what is best for the environment. They appreciate retailers’ and brands’ efforts to decrease food and packaging waste, and energy conservation with measures like closed door meat cases.
For the Power of Meat report from the Meat Conference, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ultrasound School Set for Next Week in Texas
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will hold an ultrasound certification school on May 4-5. The event will be held at the Hamilton Sheep Station, 2165 County Road 519 in Evant, Texas.
The cost is $200 for individuals wanting to become certified to scan sheep for the National Sheep Improvement Program, or $100 for individuals wanting to solely participate in the educational portion of the program. Space is limited and participants need to register immediately by contacting Bruce Boyd, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for Hamilton County, at 254-386-391 or Bruce.Boyd@ag.tamu.edu.
“This school will provide sheep producers, commercial and seedstock, with a general understanding of how ultrasound technology works and how to best implement it within the Texas sheep industry,” said Reid Redden, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension sheep and goat specialist and director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Service Center at San Angelo. “Ultrasound is a proven technology to improve quality and consistency of carcass traits in sheep that has been underutilized in Texas.”
Activities on May 4 will start with registration at 9:30 a.m. followed by a two-hour overview of ultrasound to measure carcass traits. Lunch will be provided and followed with three hours of practice scanning. The day will conclude with a field trip to Capra Foods in Goldthwaite, Texas, for dinner and carcass viewing.
On May 5, the NSIP certification will run from 8 a.m. to noon. At time of registration, participants should let Boyd know if they’ll be bringing their own ultrasound unit with probe.
Source: Texas A&M AgriLife
Australian Market Continues To Rise
The Australian wool market continued to trend upward this week, recording solid overall price increases for the second consecutive series. The national offering increased to 47,446 bales – 7,044 bales more than the previous week.
Wool on hold continues to bolster offerings. Due in part to this, when compared to the previous season there have been 104,242 more bales put through the auction system – an 8 percent rise. The larger offering attracted excellent buyer support across all three selling days, pushing prices continually higher as the sales progressed. Main buyer interest continued to be focused on the better-style wools, however, lesser-style lots also recorded price rises as buyers tried to find value in the rising market.
Unlike in the previous series – where the gains were felt mainly in the finer microns – this week the rises were experienced across all Merino types and descriptions. The individual Micron Price Guides across all three centers added between 15 and 88 cents for the week. The rises in the Merino fleece MPGs helped push the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator up by 30 cents for the series. This was the largest weekly rise in the EMI since February. The EMI closed the week at 1,342 Australian cents – an increase of 2.3 percent.
A strengthening in the Australian dollar (the AUD added 0.81 USc to climb to 77.89 USc) meant that when viewed in U.S. dollar terms, the rise in the EMI was even higher. The EMI added 34 U.S. cents, to close the series at 1,045 USc for an increase of 3.3 percent.
The skirtings also recorded solid price rises for the series. General gains of between 50 and 80 cents were enjoyed as 18.0 micron and finer lots were most affected. Next week’s offering is very similar as there are currently 48,245 bales on offer in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle, with only two selling days required (Tuesday and Wednesday).
Exporters Seek Ocean Transport Intervention
Nearly 300 U.S. agriculture and forest products companies and associations – including the American Sheep Industry Association – have delivered a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg urging immediate intervention to protect U.S. exporters and their access to foreign markets.
“We are concerned with challenges imposed by vessel-operating common carriers, who are declining to ship U.S. agricultural commodity exports from U.S. ports, and imposing hundreds of millions of dollars of punitive charges already determined to be unreasonable by the Federal Maritime Commission,” read the letter to Sec. Buttigieg. “The burden on hardworking exporters, manufacturers, farmers, ranchers and our rural communities is overwhelming. We urge the Department of Transportation to utilize all existing authorities to remedy the challenges experienced by U.S. agricultural exporters.
“The last three decades in the ocean shipping industry have brought consolidation to a sector that once had dozens of carriers. A result of that consolidation is complete reliance on less than a dozen foreign carriers to deliver our agricultural products overseas. The tenuous nature of this arrangement is evident as VOCCs are delivering massive volumes of imported shipments to U.S. ports and then electing to leave without refilling empty containers with American goods and products.
“Whereas shipping containers filled with imported goods are normally unloaded, sent to rural areas, filled with agricultural commodities and then shipped abroad, the lucrative freight rates paid by the import cargo, combined with congestion and delay at ports on our West and East Coasts are leading VOCCs to immediately return empty containers to their overseas ports of origin. The situation is exacerbated by carriers’ failure to provide accurate notice to our exporters of arrival/departure and cargo loading times, and then imposing draconian financial penalties on the exporters for ‘missing’ those loading windows – a practice that the FMC has found to be unreasonable.
“We ask the Department of Transportation to assist the Commission in expediting its enforcement options. Additionally, we urge the Department of Transportation to consider its existing authorities to determine how it can assist with the transportation needs of the U.S. exporters and the farmers and ranchers they serve in overcoming the current challenges in shipping goods and products.”
- PRODUCER EDUCATION