Editor’s Note: Due to the ASI Annual Convention – Jan. 22-25 in Scottsdale, Ariz. – there will be no ASI Weekly Newsletter on Jan. 24. The newsletter will return on Jan. 31.
ASI Calls for Direct Payments to Sheep Producers
The American Sheep Industry Association formally requested this month that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer consider direct payments to sheep producers as part of any future Market Facilitation Program.
“Our producers overwhelmingly support efforts aimed at strengthening the United States’ position on free and fair trade and are appreciative of the administration’s efforts to rectify long standing disparities in the trading actions of China. To that end, we are optimistic given the recent positive steps taken to sign the first phase of an agreement,” wrote ASI President Benny Cox. “Yet, our understanding is that through this process China will maintain retaliatory tariffs, specifically tariffs on raw wool and sheepskins (pelts). That means that we are preparing to head into a second shearing and marketing season with the effective loss of our largest export market.
“In the first round of the MFP, the USDA identified $17 million in American lamb purchases. That option has not impacted markets or provided any revenue to sheep producers for sheepskins and certainly not for wool. We ask that the program specific to our industry be reconsidered to focus on wool and sheepskins as the primary targeted products.
“We are hearing clearly from producers across the nation on the impact this is having to their bottom line and profitability. Without the ability to sell their wool, they are completely reliant on the slaughter market, where the loss incurred to sheepskins alone is eliminating their profitability. As we come up on our annual convention at the end of this month, I fully expect this to be a major topic and already our state affiliates have circulated policy directives urging ASI to continue to pursue a pathway to diminish the effect of this trade disruption on our wool and sheepskin market.”
The letter was recently shared with ASI’s state contacts, and the association asked that they in turn share it with their congressional delegations.
Click Here to read the full letter.
President Trump Signs Agreement with China
On Wednesday, President Donald J. Trump signed Phase 1 of the Economic and Trade Agreement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China. The agreement broadly addresses structural barriers to trade to support an expansion of export opportunities.
Under Phase 1 of the agreement, China has agreed to purchase at least $80 billion of U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products during the next two years with the expectation that trade will continue to grow in successive years.
“The American Sheep Industry is encouraged to see American wool and sheepskins included in the list of products targeted for increases in U.S. exports,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “China is the largest export market for wool and sheepskins, and this trade dispute has taken a heavy toll on our producers. In spite of the existing tariffs by China, ASI is committed to doing everything we can to promote the purchase of these products and we encourage the U.S. Trade Representative to remain vigilant to ensure China follows through on its obligation to purchase additional U.S. goods from this list.”
Through this agreement, China and the United States intend to continue to work cooperatively on projects to further expand markets and promote growth in the trade of food and agricultural products.
“Our hope is this cooperation will result in the removal of tariffs on our products, and in time open the Chinese market to American lamb,” said Orwick.
Annual Convention App Up and Running
The American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention App, Whova, is now live and available for use as convention attendees prepare to head to the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Plaza Resort next week.
Available in the Apple and Google stores, the app can also be used on Blackberry and Windows phones by visiting https://whova.com/webapp/request/?event_id=asian_202001.
Convention attendees will find the app offers access to the week’s schedule, meeting agendas and networking opportunities. The community board offers opportunities to share rides and information about local attractions and restaurants with other convention attendees, and it’s all free. The app also includes the option to share photos, a map of the resort’s meeting spaces, information on convention speakers and more.
To download, visit your respective app store and search for Whova. To find the annual convention within the app, search for 2020 ASI Annual Convention.
ASI Applauds Senate Passage of USMC Trade Pact
The U.S. Senate voted 89-10 on Thursday to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact that was approved by the U.S. House (385-41) in December 2019. The agreement is expected to be signed by President Donald J. Trump in the near future.
The agreement is an important one for the American sheep industry as Mexico and Canada are top export markets for American lamb and wool. Mexico was the top buyer of American lamb and the fourth largest buyer of American wool in the past year. Canada was the fourth largest export market for American lamb and seventh largest for American wool.
The American Sheep Industry Association supported passage of the trade agreement.
American Lamb Exports Up in 2019
Led by strong demand in Mexico, American lamb export volume was the largest since 2011 (through November 2019) and export value is set to exceed $25 million for the first time since 2014, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
Lamb exports totaled 32 million pounds for $23.7 million in value through the first 11 months of 2019 – 23 percent higher in volume and 11 percent higher in value than in the same period the previous year.
Click Here for lamb export statistics.
USDA Announces $10.2 Million for Vaccines
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced $10.2 million in awards through the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. USDA also announced a Request for Proposals to acquire Food and Mouth Disease vaccine for the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.), and House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa (Calif.) issued the following statement. Both Peterson and Costa led bipartisan efforts to include mandatory, long-term funding for these programs to ensure the United States has tools to address disease risks including African Swine Fever, Avian Influenza, Virulent Newcastle Disease, and Foot and Mouth Disease.
“In the last Farm Bill, we fought hard to establish and fund the NADPRP and the new National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank as well as reauthorize the National Animal Health Laboratory Network,” Peterson said. “As our committee oversees Farm Bill implementation, we are pleased to see USDA moving forward on all three of these programs. These important tools will help prevent and respond to animal pests and diseases, help keep animals healthy and ensure markets stay open. We look forward to seeing these programs address an even wider range of prevention and mitigation activities in future years.”
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway (Texas) said, “One of my top priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill was to strengthen our nation’s animal pest and disease response capabilities. Today’s announcement is another crucial step toward that goal, and I am proud that experts at the Texas Animal Health Commission and Texas A&M University are among the recipients. I am also pleased that USDA is moving forward to acquire a stockpile of Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine. We made a historic investment in the 2018 Farm Bill to protect our nation’s livestock sector, and it’s good to see that progress is being made on these important programs.”
Source: Northern Ag Network
ASI and PLC Oppose Migratory Bird Protection Act
On Wednesday, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources held a markup of the Migratory Bird Protection Act, HR 5552, and reported favorably on the bill 20-14 along party lines. The American Sheep Industry Association and the Public Lands Council sent a letter in advance of the hearing, urging the chairman and ranking member to oppose this legislation.
This bill would overturn the legal opinion by the Interior Department’s solicitor that loss of a protected avian species from an otherwise lawful activity does not constitute an “incidental take” of that animal.
The ASI/PLC letter stated that, “Ranchers should not be held liable for those unintended, unforeseen, and rare occurrences where a normal operating activity results in the loss of a protected avian species.”
During the hearing, Rep. Russ Fulcher (Idaho) echoed the sentiments of ASI’s members and introduced the letter in opposition to the bill into the record.
“While many of you may want to focus on oil and gas companies, I want to focus on Idaho’s ranchers and sheepherders who seek to make an honest living, but are often hamstrung by federal policies,” said Fulcher. “For example, if this opinion of incidental take is overturned, a rancher, who is trying to protect his land utilizing a lawful prescribed burn and accidently destroys a protected avian bird’s nest, that rancher could be held liable.”
ASI will continue to work with Congress to oppose this legislation and changes to the current interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Click Here to read the full letter.
Price Fluctuations Mark Australian Wool Market’s Return
The Australian wool market resumed sales this week – after the annual three-week Christmas recess – and the first sale of the new calendar year was another volatile one with large price fluctuations across the series.
This sale is traditionally a larger one – this year the national offering was 52,261 bales. As a three-day sale was required in Melbourne due to the large quantity, Sydney sold in the unusual pattern of Tuesday/Wednesday to avoid Melbourne selling in isolation. From the opening hammer on the first day of selling, it was apparent that large price increases were in the cards. By day’s end, all types and descriptions across all merino microns rose by 90 to 140 cents.
On the back of these rises, the individual Merino Price Guides in Sydney and Melbourne jumped by 93 to 135 cents. These increases helped to push the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator up by 79 cents – the largest daily rise in the EMI since September of last year. All three centers were in operation on the second selling day.
As the western region missed out on the price rises of the previous day, the Fremantle market opened strong with general price rises of 90 to 100 cents. However, midway through the sale, buyers started to reduce their limits as they accumulated wool. By the end of the day, the price rises had almost completely deteriorated. The downward trend experienced in the west continued when Melbourne opened on the final day, so much so that the southern MPGs for 17.5 micron and coarser fell by 27 to 77 cents. The EMI lost 34 cents for the day.
Despite the final day losses, the EMI still recorded overall positive movement for the series, adding 51 cents for the week, to close at 1,609 Australian cents.
- PRODUCER EDUCATION