Early Bird Registration Flies Away in One Week
Time is running out to register at the discounted, early-bird rates for the 2024 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention in Denver. The deadline to register at the cheaper rate is Dec. 8.
Regular registration runs online through Dec. 18. After that date, additional registrations will need to be completed in person in Denver and are subject to availability.
Click Here to register.
Greg Groenewold Named Wool Excellence Winner
Following in the footsteps of his father, Greg Groenewold has been selected as the winner of the 2024 Wool Excellence Award by the American Sheep Industry Association’s Wool Roundtable. Grant, Greg’s father, received the honor in 2016. The award will be presented at the Wool Recognition Lunch on Jan. 11, 2024, during the ASI Annual Convention in Denver.
“I was very surprised when I found out,” Greg said. “Then I was a bit emotional because my father had won the same award. It kind of took my breath away.”
Groenewold Fur and Wool Company is a third-generation operation. The company’s fur operation helped open doors for exporting wool to several countries, including China and Germany. And Greg was a driving force on the wool side before he was even old enough to drive.
“From the time he was probably 10 years old, he was riding in the trucks to pick up wool,” recalled his brother, Guy. “And when he was old enough, he was the one driving the truck. By 1980 or so, he was selling most of the wool, picking it up from the shearers, grading and sorting it, pretty much everything. He did that until about seven or eight years ago.”
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, Greg fought off the effects of the disease with a work ethic that few could match.
“That’s how he defined himself, as a hard worker” Guy said. “As a partner, he was the hardest-working person – both physically and mentally – that I’ve ever seen. For 10 years, he didn’t let the disease slow him down. And even when the symptoms started to show up, he worked every day for another six years. He’s still in the office one day a week even now.”
As an independent, family-run business, Groenewold Fur and Wool operated outside of the traditional American wool industry for many years. Greg was the one who started the operation’s assimilation with ASI approximately 20 years ago.
“He’s a very nice guy, and has always been easy to work with,” said ASI Wool Consultant Barry Savage, who first met Greg back in 2003. “They are setup a bit different than many of the wool exporters, but Greg has always been flexible when we’ve made suggestions.”
The company had exported wool into China for more than a decade before establishing a working relationship with ASI.
“We’ve always been very independent, and it wasn’t really our style to work with an agency like ASI, but Greg embraced it,” Guy said. “And that led to my dad embracing it.”
ASI: Sheep Producers Support Checkoff
American Sheep Industry Association President Brad Boner of Glenrock, Wyo., recently submitted a letter to the editor of Cowboy State Daily expressing the support for the American Lamb Board – the industry’s checkoff fund.
“In response to John Thompson’s Nov. 6 article about the OFF Act, we’d like to point out that America’s sheep producers have twice voted to support the American Lamb checkoff since its creation in 2002.
“Both national referendums were approved by a super majority of votes, which had to be counted two ways to be approved: by individual producers and by share of sheep production.
“Contrary to Mr. Thompson’s reporting, there is intense oversight from USDA. A USDA representative is in attendance at each meeting of the American Lamb Board via telephone or in person. Transparency is also evident on the American Lamb Boards web site. There you will find annual reports and audited financials.
“We believe it a very bad idea to change federal statutes after our industry has invested its own dollars to build and approve an industry-specific promotion program. Sheep producers designed a promotion program with ranchers, lamb feeders and lamb packing companies each paying a share, and all three sectors have a say in promotion efforts.
“Sheep ranchers, lamb feeders and lamb meat companies see the benefit of promoting American lamb specifically because they’ve witnessed first-hand the lack of American lamb promotion. For years, all the food expos, trade shows, advertisement and culinary events were solely represented with foreign lamb. We decided as an industry that we couldn’t complain if we weren’t fighting for our own business with our own dollars.
Click Here to read the full letter.
BLM Ends M-44 Use
The Bureau of Land Management is taking action to end the use of M-44 devices that deliver sodium cyanide on public land. This decision would build on existing limitations in several states and extend across all public lands managed by the BLM.
To implement the decision, the BLM has renewed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services Wildlife Services regarding wildlife damage management. The BLM will also amend internal guidance – as appropriate – to clarify the prohibition.
An M-44 is a spring-loaded device, staked in the ground at surface level, that can be loaded with a sodium cyanide capsule and baited to attract predator species. When triggered, the spring ejects a lethal dose of cyanide into the biting animal’s mouth, resulting in death within one to five minutes.
The BLM’s decision to ban M-44s that deliver sodium cyanide on public lands follows existing bans or use-limitations in Idaho, Oregon, California and Washington. There is pending legislation to ban the use of M-44s on all public lands, and their use is currently prohibited on National Wildlife Refuges and National Park Service lands. Less than 1 percent of the M-44s used by APHIS Wildlife Services in 2022 were on BLM-managed lands.
M-44 cyanide devices have been implicated in several incidents, including one in Idaho in 2017 when a family dog was killed and a child injured after accidently triggering a device placed on public land 400 feet from their home. In another incident, a recreationist triggered an M-44 cyanide device while recreating on BLM-managed public land, resulting in long-term injury and ongoing health problems.
The BLM’s ban on M-44 devices that deliver sodium cyanide will not result in additional limits on other predator control techniques on public land.
Positive Run Ends at Australian Wool Market
After two successive weeks of solid rises, the Australian wool market eased slightly this series, heavily influenced by currency movements. After 5.7 percent of the total offering was withdrawn prior to sale, the large offering forecast last week did not eventuate. Instead, 46,908 bales were available to the trade, which was still 3,220 more bales than the previous week.
With five months of the season completed, the total amount of wool put through the auction system is tracking well above that of the previous season. There have been 62,672 more bales offered in the 2023-24 season for an increase of 8.5 percent.
The movements in the individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece across the country ranged between plus 26 cents clean (17-micron MPG in Melbourne) to minus 41 cents clean (both the 18.5- and the 20-micron MPGs in Fremantle). With the other three sectors all losing ground, the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator dropped by 4 cents for the week and closed at 1,166 Australian cents. Due to a strengthening of the Australian dollar – the AUD gained nearly a full cent compared to the USD – when viewed in USD terms, the EMI recorded an overall increase. The EMI added 8 U.S. cents for the week, closing at 776 U.S. cents.
With the total amount offered now well above the previous year, the total dollar amount of wool has now surpassed the corresponding sale of the previous season. There has been $971 million worth of wool sold for an increase of $7 million year-on-year. Interestingly, Melbourne and Fremantle have increased their dollar amounts – plus $9 million and plus $11 million, respectively. Sydney, however, has lost ground – minus $13 million – highlighting the larger falls that the finer Merino microns have experienced this year. Those falls have more heavily impacted Sydney’s large Superfine selection.
Click Here for the Australian Wool Report Prices in US Dollars Per Pound.
Administration Supports Supply Chain
As part of the inaugural meeting of the White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, President Biden and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week that USDA is making investments that will strengthen American food and agriculture supply chains, expand markets for agricultural producers, and lower food costs.
The announcement was made as part of the inaugural meeting of the new White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience, which is part of President Biden’s agenda to lower costs for American families and increase investment in America’s supply chains critical to economic and national security. Today’s funding builds on prior investments made by USDA under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to increase competition and lower costs by enhancing independent meat and poultry and other diversified food processing capacity, strengthening local and regional food systems, and expanding domestic, innovative fertilizer production.
USDA is making investments in 185 projects worth nearly $196 million to create new and better market opportunities for producers and entrepreneurs. Among the projects funded are two with ties to the American sheep industry: $72,150 to Elly’s Acres Farm in New York and $41,880 to Fibershed.
The Elly’s Acres grant “will be used to provide working capital for Elly’s Acres Farm, LLC, a family run sheep farm located in Jamesville, New York. Elly’s Acres specializes in pasture raised, grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free lamb, and wool products. Project funds will be used to expand its locally produced lamb line.”
The Fibershed grant “will be used to pay for value-added planning to process and tan sheep hides and assess the feasibility of the development of a mid-tier value chain for an eco-tanned hide supply chain that will deliver additional value to participating ranchers.”
USDA Makes Change to Disaster Assistance Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has waived certain notice of loss requirements for 2023 for the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-raised Fish and Livestock Indemnity Program.
In an effort to streamline assistance to support access to critical 2023 natural disaster recovery assistance, USDA’s Farm Service Agency is waiving the requirement to submit ELAP or LIP notices of loss within a pre-determined number of days for 2023. Instead, producers have the flexibility to submit 2023 notices of loss as soon as possible – once losses are realized – following a natural disaster event or no later than the established annual program application for payment deadlines for each program. FSA county committees are also being asked to re-evaluate 2023 ELAP and LIP late-filed notices of loss to determine if the waiver applies.
The improvements to ELAP and LIP build on others made since 2021. This includes ELAP benefits for above normal costs for hauling feed and water to livestock and transporting livestock to other grazing acres during a qualifying drought. FSA also expanded eligible livestock under ELAP, LIP and the Livestock Forage Disaster Assistance Program, and increased the LIP payment rate for beef, beefalo, bison and dairy animals less than 250 pounds and most recently beef calves over 800 pounds.
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet and Loan Assistance Tool can help producers and landowners determine disaster protection and recovery program or loan options. For more information about FSA programs, contact your local USDA Service Center.
Click Here for more information.
USDA Opens Applications for RAPP
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the first tranche of funding under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program. USDA is providing up to $300 million in funding in its first year to support eligible projects that enable exporters to break into new markets and increase market share in growth markets.
Secretary Vilsack announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity at the President’s Export Council, after announcing the establishment of RAPP in October as part of a bipartisan request from the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. In total, RAPP is a $1.2 billion program made possible through the Commodity Credit Corporation, which will be made available over five years.
RAPP funds are available to non-profit U.S. agricultural trade organizations, non-profit State Regional Trade Groups, U.S. agricultural cooperatives, and state agencies that conduct approved market development activities to foster expanded exports and market diversification by encouraging the development, maintenance, and expansion of diverse commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural commodities and products.
USDA is committed to promoting export opportunities in diverse and non-traditional markets, ensuring that U.S. agricultural commodities and products are available to diverse consumer groups. Therefore, the current top export markets will be ineligible for first tranche of RAPP funding. Those top ineligible markets are: China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
All other markets will therefore be eligible, with the exception of those countries for which sanctions or other legal barriers are in place. Further, the following three regions have been identified for special emphasis through the first tranche RAPP: Africa, Latin American/Caribbean and South/Southeast Asia. Out of the total funding available for the first tranche of RAPP, USDA will specifically set aside $25 million to fund activities in Africa.
Future tranches of funds will be released in future years to ensure that the focus of funding can be adapted to changing trade environments and market conditions. RAPP awards will be generally granted for a period of performance of five years, with an expected period of performance starting June 1, 2024, and ending on Sept. 30, 2029.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. eastern time on Feb. 2, 2024. Additional information on RAPP is available at grants.gov.
ALB Hosts Lamb Jam Finale
The American Lamb Board hosted a two-day lamb retreat for the winning chefs of Lamb Jam Restaurant Month.
Day one of the retreat included an educational butchery demonstration led by Culinary Institute of America Instructor Chef David Kamen, where culinary students gathered around for the demo followed by the six chef teams cooking their winning lamb dishes together. This was a friendly competition and family style lamb feast.
The winning chefs and their dishes included:
- John Bates with InterStellar BBQ, Austin – Lamb Picadillo Tostado.
- Lambert Givens with Hunters Kitchen & Bar, Boston – Lamb Croquette with Pesto Tzatziki.
- Jason Halverson with The Madrigal, San Francisco – Cumin Spiced Lamb.
- Demetri Mechelis with Martha Dear, Washington D.C. – Lamb & Hummus with Sourdough Pita.
- Nicco Muratore with Mamnoon, Seattle – Braised and Pressed Lamb Croquette.
- Bo Porytko with Misfit Snack & Bar, Denver – Emotional Cabbage: Stuffed Lamb Loin.
Chef Demetri Mechelis’s Lamb & Hummus with Sourdough Pita dish won.
Day two included a lamb ranch tour where California producer and American Sheep Industry Association Secretary/Treasurer Joe Pozzi spoke to the chefs about regenerative agriculture practices and sheep grazing in the local vineyards. The retreat ended with a Lamb Barbeque lunch and Q & A session.
“Our goal with these events is to build a network of lambassador chefs through the annual Lamb Jam Finale retreat that truly gives them the understanding of the benefits of sourcing American lamb for their restaurant menus,” says ALB Chair Peter Camino of Buffalo, Wyo. “We also hope this builds a collaborative relationship that informs effective foodservice programs, too.”