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2024 ASI Award Winners Announced

Sheep operations and industry professionals from a large swath of the United States are included in this year’s list of award winners, all of whom will be recognized at the 2024 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention next month in Denver.

Winners include:

  • McClure Silver Ram Award: Nick Forrest of Ohio.
  • Peter Orwick Camptender Award: Dr. Ron Lewis of Nebraska and Larry Prager of South Dakota.
  • Distinguished Producer Award: Brent and Tracie Roeder of Montana.
  • Industry Innovation Award: Kyle Farms of New York.
  • Shepherd’s Voice Award: Lorrie Boyer of Colorado.

Cousins Matt Kyle and Nate Hatch have developed the largest commercial, indoor sheep operation east of the Mississippi River with a 5,000-ewe farm that provides customers with a year-round lamb supply. Housed in five massive barns, the operation is based in Avon, N.Y., approximately 30 minutes south of Rochester, N.Y. Lambing takes place every other month to ensure a steady stream of lamb at a variety of weights and sizes.

“We appreciate the recognition,” said Kyle. “We kind of like to keep our mouths shut and just do our work, so we were surprised to hear that we are receiving the Industry Innovation Award. We don’t always like a lot of recognition for what we do, but in this case, we will take it.”

Dr. Ron Lewis is retiring this month from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will pick up one half of the Peter Orwick Camptender Award (along with Larry Prager) on his way into retirement. But he isn’t done with the sheep industry just yet. The former longtime technical director of the National Sheep Industry Improvement Program still has a few years of work left on his expansive GEMS Project.

“I’m looking forward to retiring, it’s something my wife and I have been planning on for a while now,” Lewis said. “But it’s a bit frightening.”

Lewis will offer a presentation on the GEMS Project at the ASI Annual Convention the day before the annual awards luncheon, and still has a few graduate students whose work he will continue to oversee.

Center of the Nation’s Larry Prager has been instrumental in his own way in the area of educating sheep producers. Given his position as a wool warehouse manager, it comes as no surprise that he would constantly work with producers, shearers and wool classers on their wool clips. He’s also provided space and resources for collegiate wool judging competitions in an effort to educate the next generation on the qualities of wool.

“The way I see it, education is part of the job,” said Prager. “I’ve worked with producers on everything from wool quality to picking replacements and sire selection. Some of those things are kind of outside the normal duties of a wool warehouse position, but they are important to the industry as a whole.”

Nick Forrest has been an ambassador for American lamb for as long as anyone can remember. A past president and member of the American Lamb Board, he might be best known for his lamb cooking demonstrations that have taken place at state sheep association meetings, sheep and wool festivals and countless grocery stores throughout the United States. While he tends to travel in the Eastern half of the country, he’s well known as a lambassador who entertains crowds while his wife, Kathy, does a lot of the prep work to feed the hungry masses he’s convinced to try American lamb.

A sheep producer himself, Forrest has previously served as president of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association as well as on the board of the Ohio Sheep and Wool Program – a state check-off program.

“This is a very distinguished award, and I’m happy to receive it. Traveling to a lot of state association meetings and festivals, I see the passion that people have for American lamb just like Kathy and I do. And, I’m happy to see that. It’s fun to talk to people who share that passion.”

Like some of the other award winners, Brent and Tracie Roeder have contributed to the American sheep industry in countless ways during a lifetime of involvement. Brent grew up on a sheep operation in Texas before making his way to Montana. The couple forged their own path with an operation that spawned three companies: Montana Sheep Company, Montana Wool Company and Montana Lamb Company.

Raising quality sheep would have been enough to earn the couple ASI’s Distinguished Producer award, but they took it a step further in developing direct marketing opportunities for both their lamb and value-added wool products. While Brent routinely credits Tracie for handling the family’s successful wool venture, he draws extra praise from producers throughout Big Sky Country for his work as the state’s extension specialist for range sheep production.

“This award is a testament to the character of the American sheep industry, in particular the Montana Wool Growers, Targhee breeders and Texas Sheep & Goat Raisers,” Brent and Tracie said. “Every step of the way from our youth to the present, we have had tremendous mentorship through 4-H and FFA, fellow producers and extension professionals. Any success we’ve enjoyed has been because someone took the time to listen and advise us. Folks always helped. Our industry has a rich history of sharing knowledge and bringing young people to the table. It is an honor just to be nominated. We are stunned and grateful to receive the Distinguished Producer Award.”

A 26-year veteran of farm broadcasting in Colorado, Shepherd’s Voice award winner Lorrie Boyer has covered several intriguing issues at the local, state and national levels while building a longstanding relationship with a multitude of agricultural associations along the way. She serves as farm director and morning show host at KSIR Radio in Fort Morgan, Colo. In addition, she regularly appears on RFD-TV and produces the Ag Queen podcast.

Boyer previously served as president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and has covered a number of sheep industry stories through the years, including Farm Bill priorities, lamb markets and the increasing supply of imported lamb.

“I have truly enjoyed working with ASI over the years, always good interviews and have always had a good relationship with (Executive Director) Peter Orwick and the association’s presidents. It is especially fun catching up at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention each year and learning more about what current issues and initiatives that ASI is working on.”

Look for more on the 2024 award winners in the January issue of the Sheep Industry News.


$1.50 Per Pound LDP Available for Some Wools

Attention wool growers with 23.6 to 25.9 micron wool who haven’t taken a Loan Deficiency Payment in 2023 – now is the time. Growers with this micron wool can currently receive a payment of $1.50 per lb. clean.

Talk to your local U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency office to apply and to learn more. LDP rates change weekly, so check often.

Click Here for more information.


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.

DOL Publishes 2024 H-2A Monthly AEWRs

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Foreign Labor Certification published two new Adverse Effect Wage Rates for both herding or production of livestock on the range and for non-range occupations for the H-2A program.

The AEWR is the minimum wage rate set by the DOL that must be offered, advertised in job recruitment and paid by employers to H-2A workers in corresponding employment, so that wages of workers are not adversely affected in the United States. These new AEWRs are set to be effective as of Jan. 1, 2024. For range occupations, the new AEWR that will go into effect at the beginning of next year was set at $1,986.76 for all states.

For non-range occupations for field and livestock workers, it varies by both standard occupational classification and state and goes into effect either Jan. 1 or July 1 of 2024. The list of non-range occupation AEWRs can be found here.


Research Update Looks at Wool Sustainability

Wool is completely renewable, biodegradable and natural, which is what makes it such a sustainable fiber said International Wool Textile Organization’s Secretary General Dalena White on the latest edition of the ASI Research Update podcast.

White spent more than half an hour discussing the Sustainability of Wool Textiles with podcast host Jake Thorne of Texas A&M AgriLife.

Click Here to listen to the podcast.


Australian Wool Market Finishes Strong

The Australian wool market closed out the 2023 calendar year strongly, recording a second successive increase in this series.

On the first day of selling, buyer competition was strong and pushed prices progressively higher for the day. The standouts for the day were the Merino fleece types as the individual Micron Price Guides for 16.5 through to 21 micron rose by between 11 and 92 cents. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator gained 21 cents for the day. This was the largest daily rise in the EMI since July 5 – where a 21-cent rise was also recorded. In USD terms, the 20-U.S. cent rise was the largest daily rise in the EMI since the Dec. 14, 2022.

The second day was almost a carbon copy of the first. Further large increases in fine Merino fleece types – the highlight was a 104-cent rise in the 16.5-micron MPG in Melbourne – pushed the EMI up by another 19 cents. The market finished softly on the final day in a stand-alone Melbourne offering. The EMI gave back 5 cents of the previous day’s rises.

The EMI closed the week and the year at 1,212 Australian cents – a weekly increase of 35 cents. Due to gains in the Australian dollar, when viewed in USD terms the gain in the EMI was 44 U.S. cents. The EMI opened the year at 1,327 cents and during the following 12 months it made gains and losses but ultimately trended lower, closing the year 115 cents lower for an 8.7-percent fall.

Sales now head into the annual three-week Christmas recess. Sales will resume the week of Jan. 8. With wool accumulating during the break, this is traditionally one of the larger sales on the calendar. Last year, more than 50,000 bales were offered.

Click Here for the Australian Wool Report Prices in US Dollars Per Pound.

Source: AWEX


ALB Releases GHG Mitigation Strategies

A new resource outlines best practices for the American sheep industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The resource summarizes findings in a landmark Environmental Footprint Study by Michigan State University.

Many of the suggested practices align with the Lamb Crop Best Practices developed to improve on-farm productivity and profitability. Reducing lamb loss, breeding ewes earlier and optimal nutrition practices are all areas where producers can maximize productivity while reducing GHG emissions.

“It’s encouraging that producers can implement sound practices that have been proven to help with productivity while reducing our environmental footprint,” said ALB Chairman Peter Camino of Buffalo, Wyo. “U.S. sheep producers have long been stewards of the land, but seeing strategies that make sense for both productivity and sustainability is encouraging.”

Additional strategies to minimize GHG emissions include:

  • Proper fertilizer use.
  • Improved manure management.
  • The use of renewable resources.
  • Adopting new grazing opportunities.

Click Here for the full report.

Source: ALB


Registry Offers Summer Internship

Unlock a summer of career growth with an internship at the American Hampshire Sheep Association and Associated Registry.

The internship is a gateway to hands-on experience in livestock pedigree registration, collaboration with breed societies, magazine design, top-tier customer service and office management. Dive into the world of sheep shows and sales while gaining valuable administrative skills. Elevate your summer as you contribute to the core of the livestock industry.

The internship is in Wamego, Kan., and applications are due by Feb.1, 2024.

Click Here for more information.


Recordings Available from DSANA Symposium

Members of the Dairy Sheep Association of North America can now access recordings of each of the presentations from the virtual 2023 Dairy Sheep Symposium.

Click Here to access the recordings.

Dairy sheep producers should also mark their calendars now for the 2024 DSANA Symposium, which will be conducted in person in Chicago on Nov. 7-9, 2024.

Source: DSANA


Lambing Schools/Workshops Planned

Three lambing schools/workshops have been announced recently for 2024.

The Washington State Sheep Producers have scheduled two lambing schools. The first will be on March 2 in Mabton, Wash., and the second will be on April 13 in Lamont, Wash. Both schools will teach basic newborn lamb care, docking and castration, how to assist ewes with lambing, difficult lamb extractions, care for weak or cold lambs, grafting lambs, raising bum lambs and more.

Click Here for more information.

North Dakota State University Extension is planning a lambing workshop for Jan. 20 at the NDSU Carrington REC in Carrington, N.D.

The workshop will cover ewe nutrition, parasite management, lambing difficulties and young lamb management. After the workshop, participants can also tour the Jared Higgins Farm in Woodworth, N.D.

Click Here to register for the free program.

Source: WSSP and NDSU

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