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PLC Concerned About BLM Changes

Last week, the Bureau of Land Management published text of a proposed rule that makes significant and concerning changes to the agency’s authority under the Federal Land Management and Policy Act. The Public Lands Council – of which the American Sheep Industry Association is a member – has both substantive issues with the proposal as well as the concerted effort to avoid advance feedback during the drafting of the proposal. The rule was developed entirely by agency staff, without consultation or input from grazing permittees or other regulated stakeholders.

PLC addressed its concerns as follows:

“Apply land health standards to all BLM-managed public lands and uses: This concept is amenable to PLC, as PLC and our partners have long held that land health standards should not just apply to grazing allotments, but all BLM lands. Under existing regulation, BLM only uses these standards to evaluate and make decisions about grazing activities – not any other use of the multiple-use landscape that affects land health. This has led to grazing being the scapegoat for surface disturbance and poor land health outcomes that were caused by recreation, drought, wildlife, invasive species, and a host of other issues. Applying this concept across the landscape will create a more equitable representation of land health and ensure BLM can prioritize funding and resources adequately. This concept needs to be refined in future iterations to ensure that grazing permittees do not fall to the bottom of a long list of priorities simply because grazing allotments are healthier than other areas.

Clarify that conservation is a ‘use’ within FLPMA’s multiple-use framework: This elevation of conservation as a ‘use’ under FLPMA is the primary concern in this rule. In grazing regulatory revisions in the 1990s, BLM attempted to insert conservation use in the grazing regulations as a means to decrease grazing levels across the West. In this proposal, BLM offers the concept of a ‘conservation lease’ as a means by which to create value for conservation activities on federal land, as the BLM is required to manage BLM lands for public value. Thus far, BLM has described conservation leases as a way to allow surface disturbing activities or NGOs to lease landscapes for compensatory mitigation or other restoration activities. While BLM maintains this ‘rule does not prioritize conservation above other uses, it puts conservation on an equal footing with other uses,’ BLM has repeatedly justified decreases in grazing activities because other use provides more ‘benefit.’ PLC remains entirely opposed to involuntary reductions in grazing and will oppose any efforts by BLM to that end.

“Revise regulations to ramp up identifying and designating Areas of Critical Environmental Concern: The White House has directed BLM and other agencies to incorporate wildlife habitat connectivity in to their planning activities, and this provision is in direct response to that order. Currently, there are a number of radical environmental groups who have proposed widespread designation of ACECs as a subversive means of radically restricting management tools, including grazing. PLC remains entirely opposed to significant expansion of ACECs either in acreage or in authority, and will engage BLM on this concept in this proposed rule and others upcoming.

“BLM has repeatedly assured PLC leadership and other industry stakeholders that their primary goal is to increase the level of trust their partners have in the agency; this rule is a massive step in the wrong direction. The proposed rule says that conservation leases ‘would not override valid existing rights or preclude other, subsequent authorizations so long as those subsequent authorizations are compatible with the conservation use.’ PLC and our partners will seek a clear statement from BLM that grazing leases are conservation measures.

“While there are components of the proposal that PLC has requested in the past, the manner of development of the rule, coupled with the likely effects conservation leasing will have on the grazing community if not given any additional sideboards, sends a clear signal that the agency no longer seems to be interested in collaborative development of policy.”

The comment period will close on June 20. During the comment period, BLM intends to host three in-person meetings across the West, and two virtual meetings. PLC will demand additional regular meetings with BLM to provide robust feedback through this process.

For more information, contact Kaitlynn Glover at or 202-525-0789.

Source: PLC


APHIS Needs Help With Scrapie Surveillance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is looking to increase sheep producer participation in scrapie surveillance.

“The United States is nearing the goal line after a 70-year battle against scrapie, a fatal disease that affects the brain of sheep and goats. While the current program has been very successful in drastically reducing the amount of scrapie in the U.S., we are still finding scrapie positive animals. The most recent two cases of scrapie found in the U.S. were sampled at slaughter – a sheep tested in Wisconsin in 2021 and a goat in Indiana in 2019,” read a recent statement from APHIS. “However, we were unable to trace these to the farms of origin. It is likely there are still farms with cases of scrapie.

“One of the most difficult aspects of an eradication program is finding the last few cases of the disease. This involves testing sheep and goats that are showing signs suspect of scrapie but also testing those mature animals that may be incubating the disease. Here is where we need your help. If you have an adult sheep or goat that is exhibiting signs of scrapie such as incoordination, severe continuous rubbing or other neurologic signs, or an adult animal dies or is euthanized, or is being culled – even if you know the cause of death – please contact your local state or USDA, APHIS, Veterinary Services veterinarian or call 866-536-7593 right away. There is no charge for the collection or testing of the samples for scrapie. In addition, producers providing samples may be eligible for free official plastic tags as long as our supplies last.

“For a country to be considered free of scrapie, international standards require that no sheep or goats test positive for classical scrapie for seven years and a certain level of testing be done each year that represents the sheep and goat populations within the country. The annual goal set for the United States is more than 40,000 samples collected from mature (18 months or older) sheep and goat populations. Please join your fellow producers in helping us reach this goal.”

Click Here for more information.



USMARC Hiring Sheep Flock Manager

The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., is seeking a highly motivated, detail oriented individual to provide primary oversight of the daily husbandry and research planning of its sheep flocks. Currently, USMARC has more than 2,000 breeding ewes with genetic backgrounds and management systems reflective of the diversity of American sheep production.

This individual will work with a team of scientists and management staff to implement experiments with objectives geared toward solving high-priority issues that improve the profitability, sustainability and livelihood of American farmers and ranchers.

The vacancy will remain open until a suitable candidate is identified.

Click Here for more information.

Source: USMARC


Australian Wool Market Falls Before Break

The softer tone evident in the stand-alone Melbourne sale at the end of the previous series carried into this week, pushing prices lower across all sectors in the Australian wool market.

On the opening day, it was immediately apparent that that the prices on offer were well below those achieved in the previous sales – particularly in Sydney and Fremantle – as those centers did not suffer the losses felt in Melbourne on Thursday of last week. The major falls were in the Merino fleece types and by the end of the day the individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece had dropped by between 4 and 49 cents. The only exception were the 17- and 17.5-micron MPGs in Melbourne, which were unchanged and +3, respectively.

These reductions were the impetus behind the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator dropping by 12 cents for the day. On the second day, the market fell again, although the falls were relatively minimal. The MPGs movements ranged between +5 and -18 cents. The EMI lost another 6 cents, losing a total of 18 cents for the series to close at 1,300 Australian cents.

In a familiar pattern, currency again played a large part in the market movements of this series. A strengthening Australian dollar meant that when viewed in U.S. dollar terms the market performed more robustly. The EMI lost only 3 U.S. cents for the series. The last time the EMI was at this point was back in December. The EMI is now 69 cents lower than where it sat in the corresponding sale of the 2022-23 season.

The market now heads into a one-week recess. Sales will resume in the week beginning April 17. With wool continuing to accumulate during the break, Week 42 is expected to be a large sale as currently there are more than 54,000 bales forecast to be offered nationally.

Click Here for the Full Australian Wool Market Report


Source: AWEX


Temporary Color Change for Tags

National Band and Tag – the company that supplies the orange metal official serial tags for sheep and goats that are supplied to markets and dealers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is temporarily out of orange metal due to supply chain issues. NBT will fulfill the orders that were placed before Jan. 13 with orange metal. Orders for metal scrapie program serial tags placed after this date will be fulfilled using silver “bright” metal until the orange metal is available.



California Ram Sale Moves to Bakersfield

Due to flooding in California, the 103rd California Ram Sale scheduled for April 15 has been moved to the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, Calif.

The sale was originally set to take place at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, Calif. That facility is now a command center for flooding in the state’s central valley, which necessitated the a new home for the ram sale.

Click Here for more information.

Source: California Wool Growers Association


NCAT Hiring Carbon Farm Planners

The National Center for Appropriate Technology is seeking three full-time carbon farm planners to help sheep producers in the Northern Great Plains plan and implement conservation practices that improve climate resilience, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The primary duty of the planners will be to work closely with wool growers in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota to complete detailed Carbon Farm Plans for their properties that identify and prioritize on-farm opportunities for carbon capture and storage. Planners also provide technical assistance for implementation of practices identified in the plan, verify implementation and assist with project monitoring, and coordinate climate-smart agriculture efforts with local partner organizations and agencies. Planners will also act as connectors between the ag community and groups offering resources for improving soil health, drought resiliency and climate adaptation.

The successful candidates for these positions will be required to set up and work from a remote office in Montana, Wyoming or South Dakota, and must be willing and able to travel frequently throughout their specified region to farms, events, workshops and trainings as needed. Candidates located near NCAT’s Headquarters in Butte, Mont., have the option of an office located in the NCAT HQ Campus.

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, environmental science, natural resource management or related fields and a minimum of five years of farming experience. Applicants with equivalent but different combinations of education and experience will be considered. While not required, preference is for candidates with experience in animal – especially sheep – agriculture in the Northern Great Plains; experience in building soil health through regenerative ranching and farming; and demonstrated competence/certification in whole farm planning, such as NRCS conservation planner certification. New hires are required to successfully complete the Carbon Cycle Institute’s Carbon Farm Planning Training and Curriculum and become a Certified Carbon Farm Planner within 6 months of hire.

Click Here for more information.

Source: NCAT


ALB Produces Grazing Video

April is Earth Month and the ideal time for the American Lamb Board to release a new grazing video showcasing the benefits of sheep grazing. The video features American lamb farmers and ranchers across the United States using sheep to enhance landscapes, improve habitat, support wildfire prevention and even help other industries be more sustainable as sheep offer natural weed control around vineyards and solar operations.

ALB is promoting the new video on social media, through a virtual video “premier” for media and influencers and through a campaign with Outside Inc. The campaign will drive views of ALB’s grazing video on the Outdoor network and will generate more than 4 million impressions. Outside Inc. is the world’s leading active lifestyle media brand. In addition to print, the network features video programming on the company’s cable, satellite and broadband providers’ sports and entertainment offerings related to various outdoor activities and the lives of those who engage in them.

The campaign includes a mixture of display ads on Outside’s website, video advertisements on Outside TV, social media promotion and a custom content piece. Outside will feature an article on its website about the sheep industry’s sustainability efforts with embedded content from ALB’s grazing video.

The campaign is set to run throughout April and May 2023.

“Outside’s vast network of followers are sustainability-minded and serious about nutrition,” says ALB Chairman Peter Camino of Buffalo, Wyo. “We are capitalizing on this opportunity to increase consumer awareness and familiarity with American lamb as a healthy and sustainably produced protein.”

Click Here to watch the video.

Source: ALB


Biden Vetoes Clean Water Act Resolution

President Joe Biden on Thursday vetoed a Congressional Review Act resolution against the administration’s rule to define the Clean Water Act’s reach.

The legislation now heads back to Capitol Hill, where critics of the waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule lack enough support to override Biden’s veto despite support from several moderate Democrats in both the House and Senate.

Click Here for the full article.

Source: E&E News

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