Recipients Benefit from ASI Shearing Grants
The 10 recipients of this year’s developing shearer and mentor grants from the American Sheep Industry Association have all completed the necessary requirements to receive the full funding. Eight shearers and two mentors received grants of $1,500 each.
The developing shearers were awarded $500 at selection and an additional $1,000 upon completion of the program requirements, which included submitting videos of their work and reports on their progress and use of grant money. Wool Council members Max Matthews, Alex Moser and Sam Ortmann reviewed the applications. Shearers who received grants in the program’s second year included Mark Burenheide (Neb.), Todd Dixon (Mont.), Tirzah Gunther (Ohio), Erik House (Ariz.), James Powers (N.Y.), Leeland Prock (Ore.), Leslie Sullivan (Vt.) and Dakota Wilson (Mont.).
Many of the developing shearers used the grant funds to purchase necessary equipment, such as handpieces, combs and cutters, grinding wheels and clothing suitable for shearing.
“With the help of my mentors, my crew and this grant, I have come a long way since January,” said Gunther. “I started this season only being able to shear around 30 lambs in a full eight-hour day. I was not confident in my pattern and was honestly a bit intimidated by the thought of shearing anything larger. At this point as my season is ending, I am confidently shearing an average of 90 to 100 ewes in a day, while maintaining a good wool clip and minimal second cuts.
“I would have to say the most underrated section of the program were the video updates. This helped to keep me accountable and motivated to really focus on my efficiency and quality as the season progressed. Of course, a huge factor in how the grant helped me was also the financial supplementation, especially in the beginning. As someone who threw themselves in full-time – and had no other income except for shearing – even the initial payment made the biggest difference in my success in making what I love into a career.”
Mentors were required to document their work with developing shearers and were awarded $1,500 after completing the requirements. Mentors receiving grants in 2023 were Mick Hofmann (Ariz.) and Mary Lake (Vt.).
“I think this grant is essential for the future of our sheep industry,” Lake said. “It allows for relationships to be made between shearers. It strengthens the shearing community and offers a way for serious beginners to take the next step toward establishing their business. I wish I had a mentor grant when I was starting out. I got a lot out of being a mentor and would do it again.”
In addition to working as House’s mentor, Hoffman put on two shearing schools and will use the grant money to cover the cost of materials he purchased for the schools.
“I am thankful I was chosen to be a part of the grant program,” he said.
Australian Wool Market Down Slightly
After opening the 2023-24 wool selling season with two weeks of gains, the Australian wool market fell for the second consecutive series. It was expected to be a reasonably large sale, and the 46,367 bales on offer were very close to the original forecast.
Although the wool received good buyer support, the prices on offer were consistently below those achieved during last week’s auctions. The largest falls were felt in Merino fleece types, with the losses felt across all types and descriptions. Across the three selling centers, the individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece dropped by between 6 and 61 cents for the series. Only the 16.5-micron MPG in the North resisted the trend, posting a 3-cent gain.
The Merino skirtings followed a similar path to the fleece, while the crossbred sector recorded little change. The three Merino Carding Indicators fell by an average of 10 cents. The net result was a 13-cent drop in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator. The EMI closed the series at 1,163 Australian cents.
Currency continues to play a large role in market movements. Although the loss in the EMI was minimal – 1.1 percent in AUD terms – a 1.11-cent drop in the AUD compared to the U.S. meant that when viewed in USD terms the EMI lost 21 cents – a 2.7-percent fall.
Due to this being a quieter time of year for shearing in Western Australia, lack of quantity dictates that there is no need for a sale next week in Fremantle. With only Melbourne and Sydney in operation, the national quantity is expected to drop to 39,962 bales, selling on Tuesday and Wednesday. Week 8 is also host to Wool Week, an important time on the wool industry calendar, with a range of events scheduled (predominantly on Thursday), giving stakeholders across all sectors of the industry a chance to interact.
Click Here for Australian Wool Report Prices in USc Per Pound.
ALB Market Report: Imports Down
The American Lamb Board’s July market report is now available. The report indicates that both lamb imports and domestic production are down.
Reduced Domestic Lamb Supply
Lamb weights are lighter than a year ago, and fewer imported pounds have resulted in a lower supply of lamb in the domestic market. Federally inspected lamb and yearling slaughter for July is 4 percent lower than 2022, and July production is about 10 percent less than last year. Although lamb and yearling harvest numbers are averaging above a year ago, supply side dynamics have changed. Compared to 2021, total slaughter is down about 7 percent, due to the smaller American lamb crop and less lambs being fed.
One positive number is mature sheep slaughter, which is lower than 2021 yet averages 5 percent higher than 2022. This is being driven by larger cull ewe numbers in Arizona, California and Nevada, while the Eastern Corn Belt, Southeast and Northeast are seeing modest increases from last year.
Lamb and mutton stocks in cold storage in June were up 8.9 percent from a year ago, although storage remains below the five-year average.
Imports Significantly Down
Smaller import volumes means that more American lamb accounts for total lamb supply so far this year. Lamb imports were down 20 percent from 2022 for the first half of the year, with New Zealand imports seeing a cut of 22 percent. Mutton imports for the first part of 2023 were reduced by 23 percent from last year.
U.S. Retail Trends
Food prices continue rising, despite subsiding inflation. The June Consumer Price Index rose 5.7 percent, and is still rising. Household debt is growing, while the strong labor market is presenting a challenge to decreasing inflation.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service reported a boost of $1.27 per pound for all lamb cuts – domestic and imported – in July, $.40 per pound higher than last year. The National Lamb Cutout Value gained $4 per cwt. due to tighter lamb supplies, averaging $514 per cwt. However, this is 15 percent below last year. Wholesale values for shoulders, loins and legs increased modestly from June, but were still reduced compared to 2022.
Lamb Prices, Forage Situation
Lambs sold in Colorado, South Dakota and Texas averaged $178 per cwt. in July, well over the $157 per cwt. average from last year. Video market sales were even better, with prices ranging between $177 and $215 per cwt. The National Negotiated Live Slaughter Lamb price hit $190 per cwt. in late July.
Although hay remains expensive, less than 25 percent of continental U.S. pastures require supplemental feeding, compared to 46 percent at this time last summer. A third of the Corn Belt is experiencing poor conditions, a change from the past three years without drought.
The Livestock Marketing Information Center forecasts stronger prices, with feeder lamb prices about 3 to 4 percent higher and slaughter lamb prices up 30 percent.
OSU Hosting September Shearing School
The Ohio State University departments of Animal Sciences and Extension are pleased to announce the dates of the 2023 Fall Statewide Ohio Sheep Shearing School to be held on Sept. 22-23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dave Cable Farm in Hebron, Ohio.
During this two-day event, attendees will be given the opportunity to learn how to properly shear a sheep using the Australian shearing method. Those in attendance will be taught by veteran shearers as they walk through each step and demonstrate how to properly position the sheep and shearing handpiece in the correct location. Attendees will also learn to appreciate fleece quality by ensuring that their workstation is clear of debris and how to keep the animal’s fleece all in one piece. This shearing session is open to any and all sheep producers, regardless of shearing experience.
New this year, attendees will have the opportunity to try their hand at shearing using a variety of tools including electric handpieces, drop shaft units, or an attendee’s personal equipment. OSU encourages students to bring their own shearing equipment as doing so will allow them to become more comfortable with the tools that they own.
Additionally, questions about comb and cutter placement as well as maintenance will be discussed. Please note that class space is limited to the first 16 participants, with registration due by Sept. 15. The cost to attend is $100, which includes a boxed lunch for each day.
Click Here for more information.
Source: Ohio State University
Shearing Scholarship Available in Northern Calif.
The Northern California Wool Growers Association is looking for a person who lives in one of the eight counties it serves in Northeastern California that would be interested in a scholarship to attend a sheep shearing school. The only requirement is the person must live north of Colusa County and be willing to shear sheep in that local area.
For more information, contact Vic Ciardi at email@example.com.
Source: Northern California Wool Growers
PSU Seeking Small Ruminant Extension Associate
The Department of Animal Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State University is seeking candidates for an extension associate in small ruminant production and management. This position is located on the University Park campus.
The successful candidate will develop and deliver a comprehensive extension program to identify issues that impact the success of Pennsylvania sheep and goat farmers and provide educational resources to address these issues. As a member of the Penn State Livestock Extension Team, the candidate will serve as a liaison with the sheep and goat industries; assist with related county and state programs; and work collaboratively with faculty and staff in the department and the college. Extension activities will utilize a variety of traditional and digital delivery methods to work with adult producers across the state and might also include some youth animal science education. The successful candidate will have access to Penn State’s 75-ewe sheep flock for extension and teaching purposes.
The position typically requires a master’s degree or higher (Ph.D. preferred) or equivalent degree with disciplinary depth in sheep and/or goat production preferred, plus three years of related experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Candidates must have experience that will allow them to enhance the sustainability of small ruminant production in Pennsylvania and the Northeast region. Evidence of effective teaching skills in both formal and informal settings is required. Candidates must have strong written and oral skills to communicate effectively with a diverse population of faculty, staff, students, producers and industry leaders.
Click Here for more information and to apply.
Source: Penn State University
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.
Ag Labor Working Group Looks at H-2A
Back in June, the House Agriculture Committee launched a 14-member bipartisan working group co-chaired by Reps. Rick Crawford (Ark.) and Don Davis (N.C.), to address issues in the agriculture workforce, particularly reforms to the H-2A visa program.
The Agriculture Committee does not have jurisdiction over immigration; however, several members of the group are also on the Judiciary Committee, which does have authority over the issue. As of now, the group is aiming to release a preliminary findings report in September and then a final report with policy recommendations sometime in November or December. Due to jurisdictional constraints, the policy recommendations are the end goal for the working group.
Uruguay Says Fine Wool is the Future
“We are facing the worst crisis in sheep farming,” said Uruguayan Agriculture Minister Fernando Mattos, who added that the situation is not limited to Uruguay but to all world farmers who produce crossbred wool with a 24 to 26 micron fiber. “The new reality are finer wools and we must face it.”
Mattos made the comment during a ceremony for the opening of the shearing season in Uruguay, next to wool farmers and with President Luis Lacalle Pou symbolically handing a pair of scissors to a gang of shearers who had previously been in northern Spain exercising their skills.
“We are all expecting the return of China to the wool market, many countries have huge stocks of thick wool and reality is that any wool above 22 microns is extremely difficult to sell, because of the lack of demand,” Mattos said.
The minister and several members of sheep farming organizations revealed that there are some 40 million kilos – close to two clips of unsold wool (mainly Corriedale, the most common in Uruguay) – waiting for buyers, but some farmers have even the wool of five seasons in bags and bales in their depots.
Mattos said he had recently visited China – the leading purchaser of Uruguayan wool – and, “They told us we need to have finer wool, if we are to expect a sustained demand which is currently erratic.”
Click Here for the full story.
Source: Merco Press