Double J Buys Texas Lamb Plant

The American sheep industry will get a needed shot in the arm this fall when the old Ranchers’ Lamb of Texas plant comes back online as the newest member of the Double J Meat Packing operation, to be known officially as Double J Lamb Inc. of Texas.

“It hasn’t been used in quite a few years, so there’s a lot of work to do,” said Jeff Hasbrouck, whose family runs both Double J Meat Packing and Double J Lamb Feeders in Colorado. The plant closed to lamb processing in February 2005.

“We’ll be able to fabricate there, which is one of the main reasons we reached out about buying this plant. With the loss of Mountain States Rosen, we felt like we had to do something for the industry.”

Mountain States Rosen entered into bankruptcy protection this year and the company’s lamb processing plant in Greeley, Colo., was auctioned off. JBS USA took over the plant and has plans to turn it into a beef-processing facility. The new Colorado Lamb Processors plant in Brush, Colo., is set to come online in September, but will only be able to harvest lambs as it lacks fabricating facilities.

“We hope to have the plant up and running in two months,” said Hasbrouck, who has been in San Angelo with his father, Jay, in recent weeks overseeing the purchase of the lamb plant. “We’ll have to ramp up, so we’ll probably just be harvesting lambs at first, but will start fabricating soon after that. We knew we didn’t have a lot of time to get this done, so we couldn’t sit back and wait for it to happen.

“We feed lambs for a lot of the members of the Mountain States Co-Op (which owned Mountain States Rosen), so we knew how concerned they are about where they are going to get their lambs processed this year. So, we’re pushing through right now to get this done. It’s a nice facility. We looked at some others, but just didn’t see any with the capacity to really help the industry.”

The Ranchers’ Lamb plant was built with a capacity of 1,700 to 1,800 head a day. While Hasbrouck was familiar with the plant, he said he never personally sent sheep to the facility as it was built specifically to process Texas sheep.

“This is a bold, innovative step that the Hasbrouck family is taking in looking for a new way to support the American sheep industry,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “I think the entire industry will applaud their efforts and wish them the best of luck in this new endeavor.”

Idaho Delegation Requests H-2A Assistance from DHS

Members of the Idaho congressional delegation sent a letter this week to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf requesting help with problems that have “arisen because of the temporary rule issued on April 20, 2020, entitled, ‘Temporary Changes to Requirements Affecting H-2A Nonimmigrants Due to the COVID-19 National Emergency.’

“This temporary provision has and will continue to provide significant relief to agricultural employers. However, we request the department consider additional evidence and accommodation to the three-year maximum stay requirements given circumstances outside employers’ control due ongoing pandemic restrictions,” read the letter from Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch and Idaho Rep. Michael Simpson. “Despite aggressive, ongoing efforts to recruit employees from the domestic workforce, the sheep industry in Idaho and other western states continues to rely on H-2A nonimmigrant workers, primarily from Peru, to help run their operations. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe this spring, Peru was among the countries to implement severe travel restrictions, which ultimately resulted in fewer eligible workers being able to travel to the United States and report for duty.

“The initial April 2020 temporary rule allowed H-2A visa workers to stay past their three-year maximum and helped alleviate the shortage of workers that resulted from pandemic travel restrictions. As the pandemic persists and international travel restrictions remain, agricultural employers would benefit from continued accommodations to the three-year maximum stay requirements, especially those in the sheep industry.

“International travel to and from Peru is prohibited through September and it is not yet known when travel to and from the country can be expected to normalize. During this timeframe, eligible H-2A workers in the United States will reach their three-year maximums but may not be able to travel home to Peru. Consequently, new workers currently in Peru may not be able to travel to the United States. Additionally, temporarily limiting international travel may also be beneficial for public health reasons, with less potential for exposure abroad and a reduced need for COVID screening upon reentry into the United States. Unfortunately, the temporary rule extension issued on August 19, 2020, does not alleviate the unworkable scenario many western sheep operators currently find themselves.

“Please consider an extension to maximum length of stay requirements or other accommodations to assist these employers as they continue to navigate the uncertainties caused by COVID-19 and international travel restrictions.”

ASI Research Update Podcast: Selecting Rams

With a half dozen or so large ram sales coming up in the next three weeks, producers are definitely thinking about ram selection. Montana State University Sheep Extension Specialist Brent Roeder offers some key points in this area, as well as ram management, in the latest episode of the ASI Research Update Podcast.

Click Here to listen to the podcast.


Let’s Grow Webinar: Heritage Breed Sheep

The next Let’s Grow Program-sponsored webinar is set for Sept. 8 and will look at The Conservation and Comeback of Heritage Breed Sheep.

Jeannette Beranger of The Livestock Conservancy will lead the presentation, which will also include a producer panel featuring Leslie Johnson, Brian Larson and Oogie McGuire. As always, Jay Parsons will serve as host of the webinar.

“In this webinar, we will explore the amazing diversity of heritage sheep breeds found in America and how many are making a remarkable comeback as interest grows in small scale shepherding and in natural fiber arts. We will learn about the decades long effort to bring rare sheep back from the brink of extinction and current efforts to develop new markets for their products. Join us in this discussion about the conservation work and then listen to experiences of several rare breed sheep farmers as they recount the journey they have undertaken with their amazing sheep breeds.”

Click Here to register for the free webinar.


Australian Market Down 42 Percent in 2020

The Australian wool market recorded further overall losses this week. However, there was strengthening in some individual Merino microns and in other sectors of the market.

Due partly to the fact that the western region did not have a sale this week, the national quantity reduced to 20,488 bales. This was 12,688 bales less than offered in the previous week. This was the smallest national offering of the 2020-21 season, so far. When compared to the previous season, there have been 3,806 fewer bales put through the auction system – a reduction of 1.9 percent.

Within the Merino fleece, results varied for the series depending on micron. The finer microns fared best as 18.0 micron and finer posted minimal losses up to a 23-cent rise in the individual Micron Price Guide for 17.0 micron in the south. The medium to broad microns were the hardest hit this series. The MPGs for 20 to 22 micron lost 34 to 54 cents for the series.

The losses in this micron group were the driving factor for an overall loss in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator, which fell by 16 cents for the series to close at 929 Australian cents. The EMI has now fallen 680 cents since the first sale of this calendar year – a drop of 42 percent. When compared to the corresponding sale of the previous season, the EMI has fallen 446 cents – which equates to a 32.4 percent drop. After suffering heavy losses in the previous month, the oddments bounced back this week and were the best performing sector for the series. Solid rises in the south pushed the Merino Carding Indicator up by 42 cents, while the north recorded a modest rise of 6 cents.

Fremantle returns to the roster next week, pushing the national quantity up. Currently, there are 32,958 bales on offer, with all three centers in operation.

Source: AWEX


USDA Assists Ranchers, Farmers Affected by Recent Wildfires

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Aug. 25 the availability of assistance for agricultural producers affected by the recent wildfires to help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations.

“USDA is ready to offer all the assistance we can to the affected farmers, ranchers and communities to help them recover,” said Bill Northey, USDA under secretary for farm production and conservation. “As a farmer myself, I’m proud to be able to deliver on our most important mission to support them in their time of need.”

As of Aug. 25, wildfires had burned more than 2 million acres, mostly in the western states. Nearly 28,000 personnel from local, state and federal levels are responding to 157 separate incidents, 95 of which are large, uncontained fires.

In a continuing effort to serve the American people, USDA partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center. This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance. USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover from a natural disaster.

Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths due to specific weather events, as well as to disease or animal attacks, may qualify for assistance under USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program.

Livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying drought condition or fire on federally-managed land during the normal grazing period for a county may qualify for help through USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

USDA also can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes.

Farmers and ranchers needing to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters can apply for assistance through USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program.

For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, please contact your local USDA Service Center. To find your local USDA Service Center go to farmers.gov/service-center-locator.

Source: USDA

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