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Young Entrepreneurs Tour Diverse Michigan Agriculture

A small, but diverse group of aspiring producers and researchers took part in the American Sheep Industry Association’s Young Entrepreneurs tour of the equally diverse Michigan agricultural trade this week following their attendance at the Lamb Summit in Lansing, Mich.

Stops at two sheep farms and a century-old wool mill were absolute highlights of the trip. But the opportunity to venture outside the sheep industry offered the group the chance to not only learn about the issues facing the state’s farmers in other commodities, but also the chance to expose those same farmers to the ways in which they might benefit from the use of sheep in their own operations.

ASI Young Entrepreneurs Co-Chair Cody Chambliss of South Dakota was quick to point out the benefits of cover crop grazing at Laracha Farms on Wednesday, where the tour visited a sugar beet field. The company grows a variety of crops, from corn to pickles. Equally interested in the benefits of sheep were the folks at Cellar 1914 on Thursday. The century-old farm has been home to a variety of crops through the years, most prominently cherries. It also ran a herd of beef cows at one time. But the next generation has transitioned the farm into a winery and tasting room that caters to the Northern Michigan summer tourist crowd. The winery’s ag tourism concept might benefit from a small sheep flock that could graze the vineyard and cherry orchard, while providing yet another attraction for the tourists.

The YE group heard how imported products have greatly affected the sugar beet and cherry markets in the United States. Tour participants shared that similar issues are a problem in the sheep industry.

The tour began on Wednesday morning with a stop at Zeilinger Wool Company in Frankenmuth, Mich. The mill has been family-owned for four generations and produces everything from roving and yarn to bedding and socks. Among the company’s products are some created with wool from Great Lakes Lamb in West Branch, Mich. Tour participants got the complete Great Lakes Lamb experience as they stopped for lamb burgers at Highway Brewing Company before visiting the farm on Wednesday afternoon.

“I really liked the kind of farm to table experience we had on the first day where we had lamb burgers at lunch and then visited the farm that produced the lamb immediately afterward,” said Agnes Guillo, a graduate student at Cornell University in New York state. “And we had seen some of their wool that same day, as well. That was exciting.”

Jim and Sherrie Bristol and their daughter and son-in-law, Elaine and Rick Palm, completed the experience with lamb brats for the group upon arrival at the farm.

The next morning began with a stop at Matchett Sheep Farm in Charlevoix, Mich., where brothers Isaac and Noah Matchett have developed an intensive, rotational grazing system that is home to nearly 2,000 Polypay ewes.

“I hadn’t been to Matchett’s before,” said Michigan Sheep Producers Association Executive Director Samantha Ludlam. Members of the state’s young entrepreneurs committee planned much of the tour. “I’ve known Isaac and Noah forever, but it was great to finally set foot on their farm and see everything they’ve been working so hard on for as long I’ve known them.”

The group got a final look at the state’s many agricultural offerings – Michigan is the second-most agriculturally diverse state in the country – with a stop at Harietta Hills Trout Farm that afternoon. The farm produces fish mostly for food – some go to private ponds – and once again has been affected by imported product in recent years.

The two days came to a close with a tour of the Michigan State University Sheep Teaching and Research Farm, conducted by MSU Senior Extension Specialist Richard Ehrhardt, Ph.D. In addition to a tour of the relatively new facility, Dr. Ehrhardt talked about a solar array project that will take over some of the university’s sheep and cattle pastures in the years to come. It will provide a firsthand opportunity for him to study solar grazing and the role sheep can play in the growing industry.

Look for more on tour in the September issue of the Sheep Industry News.


Montana Ram & Ewe Sales Coming To Miles City

The Montana Wool Growers Association invites producers to attend the 97th Montana Ram Sale and 9th Annual Montana Ewe Sale. The sales will be held in Miles City, Mont., at the Eastern Montana Fairgrounds on Sept. 14-15. Last year, the sales drew buyers from seven states.

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, Montana State University Extension will host an education program from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The program will include hands-on ram evaluation, Estimated Breeding Value data education and industry updates.

After the extension program, there will be a social hour at 5 p.m., with the Ewe Sale following at 6 p.m. More than 1,000 head of reputation ewes will be offered from 16 consignor families. More information on breeds and lot sizes can be found at

On Thursday, Sept.15, a lamb BBQ lunch will be served at the fairgrounds starting at 11 a.m. The 97th Montana Ram Sale begins at noon. Twenty-four Montana consignors will deliver more than 300 of the best rams produced in the state. Breeds available include: Rambouillet, Targhee, Cormo, Suffolk and Hampshire/Suffolk crosses. Most rams have data available, including Estimated Breeding Values, scrapie codon, production records, ribeye scans, ratios, wool micron results and more. All of the rams and ewes on-site will be vet-checked on Tuesday of sale week.

The sales will be offered in-person and online. Frontier Productions will be offering the online portion of the sale at Lewistown Livestock will handle the sale management, and Kyle Shobe and Collin Gibbs will again take to the auction block to keep the sale rolling.

Updates and more details can be found on the Montana Wool Growers Association Facebook page. The Ram and Ewe Sale catalog will be available online on Sept. 1 at

Source: Montana Wool Growers Association 


Lamb Summit Delivers Industry Insight

The second American Lamb Summit – conducted on Monday and Tuesday of this week in East Lansing, Mich. – met expectations and more. Its sponsors – the American Lamb Board and Premier 1 Supplies – set out to give good reasons for the industry to push beyond the status quo.

“We are doing all we can for the entire American lamb industry to not just survive, but thrive,” said ALB Chairman Peter Camino.

The 250-plus industry participants took in hands-on sessions about lamb quality and productivity. They sampled lamb like a consumer taste panel would, saw how ultrasound measures muscle quality in live lambs, evaluated lamb carcasses and tested their skills at visually assessing animal quality with and without the aid of genetic data.

An update from Michigan State University researchers shared how the carbon footprint of the American lamb industry is being measured for the first time. Results are expected in a few months. An updated lamb pricing tool for direct marketers was released, and a cooking demonstration gave a better understanding of how to best prepare different cuts of lamb.

Nick Forrest of Oxford, Ohio, led the demonstration just hours after he was surprised as the winner of the 2022 Lamb Quality Advocate Award and a $25,000 check from Premier 1 Founder Stan Potratz.

An optional tour day on Wednesday offered participants the opportunity to check out the Detroit metro region, which is home to one of the largest non-traditional lamb markets, according to Michigan State University Senior Extension Specialist Richard Ehrhardt, Ph.D. The tour offered an in-depth look at direct sales to consumers and other non-traditional markets.

The Michigan Sheep Producers Association assisted ALB and Premier 1 in planning the summit.

Western Ag Network’s Russell Nemetz provided video news coverage of the Lamb Summit, including these three reports:

During the next couple of weeks, ALB will be adding information to The Lamb Summit online. Updates will also appear on its Lamb Checkoff Facebook page.

Source: ALB


Australian Market Stumbles Out of Break

The Australian wool market resumed this week after the annual three-week, mid-year recess and recorded substantial overall losses for the series. There were, however, positive signs evident in the second half of the week.

This sale is traditionally one of the largest of the season, as wool accumulated during the break makes its way to market at the first opportunity. This week, there were 55,363 bales on offer and buyers were cautious in their purchases as the market opened.

This caution caused the market to fall from the first lot and continue to fall as the day progressed. By the end of the day, general losses in the Merino fleece types of between 5 and 100 cents pushed the individual Micron Price Guides down by between 5 and 98 cents. These losses combined with falls in all other sectors and pushed the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator down by 37 cents for the day.

The second day of selling, the market settled as buyers were more confident in price levels. The Merino fleece MPG movements across the country were varied, ranging from -50 to +24 cents. The EMI dropped by a further 7 cents. On the final day of the series, the market finished on a reasonably positive note. With only Melbourne in operation, the market recorded minimal price movements. The EMI dropped by the smallest of margins and finished the week 45 cents lower, closing at 1,342 Australian cents.

Due to a strengthening of the Australian dollar – when compared to the U.S. dollar, the AUD has gained 3.16 cents since the previous sale in July – when viewed in USD terms, the EMI recorded positive movement. The EMI added 12 USc for the series.

Next week’s national offering remains large as the backlog of wool continues to flow into the market. Currently, there are expected to be 49,338 bales on offer.

Click Here for the Full Australian Wool Market Report.

Source: AWEX


Experience Wool Blog Features Solar Grazing

Nick Armentrout and his wife own a typical small New England farm in southern Maine. His involvement with the American sheep industry started in 2008 when he began sourcing fine American wool and production facilities for his father in-law’s new venture: an American-made clothier called Ramblers Way Farm.

During the course of his career, he developed an understanding of the value of conserving working landscapes. So when a local dairy farm down the road installed a large solar array, he started doing research on solar grazing – a method of vegetation control around solar panels that utilizes livestock (predominantly sheep) instead of mowing machinery or herbicides. The animals can clear solar sites of weeds with minimal cost or damage to the infrastructure.

“Solar-grazing contracts open up new acreage, which is a game-changer,” says Armentrout. “Both small and large sheep producers can realize additional value from their animals. This is especially promising for farmers where owning or leasing land for their animals is prohibitively expensive. Thanks to solar farms, they now have access to new acres where they can turn the cost of grazing into a source of profit.”

Click Here to read the full story.



USDA/AMS Proposing New Organic Livestock Regulations

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service proposes to amend the organic livestock and poultry production requirements by adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expanding and clarifying existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and mammalian living conditions.

AMS will host a virtual listening session on Aug. 19 from noon to approximately 2 p.m. eastern time to hear comments regarding this proposed rule. The deadline to register for oral comment is 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Aug. 15.

Click Here for more information.

Source: USDA/AMS


Cornerstone Provides Legislative Update

The American Sheep Industry Association’s lobbying firm – Cornerstone Government Affairs 00 offered an update this week on legislative issues in Washington, D.C.

Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 clears Senate

On Aug. 7, the U.S. Senate passed the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 on a party line vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.

The bill includes an additional $18 billion for existing Farm Bill conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Conservation Stewardship Program and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. These programs provide assistance to private landowners to voluntarily implement conservation practices on agricultural land.

The bill provides $2.2 billion for underserved farmers, ranchers and landowners who experienced discrimination before 2021 in U.S. Department of Agriculture farm lending programs and $3.1 billion for debt modifications for distressed borrowers or guaranteed farm loans for borrowers with at-risk agricultural operations. The bill also supports renewable energy initiatives with $13.3 billion for farm bill energy title programs and $304 million for grants and loans for underutilized renewable energy technologies.

During final negotiations, Democrats added $5.3 billion in farm debt relief to the package, as well as $4 billion in funding for the Bureau of Reclamation to address the impact of drought on western water supplies. The U.S. House of Representatives briefly returned from an August recess today to consider the bill, where it was expected to pass on a party line vote.

Click Here for more information.

Source: Cornerstone Government Affairs


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