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American Sheep Producers Collect $156 million from CFAP

As of Feb. 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has paid out more than $156 million to the American sheep industry through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

The American Sheep Industry Association paved the way for lambs, sheep and wool to be included in the government assistance package by demonstrating a $125-million loss at the ranch gate level as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent effect it had on shutting down the United States economy.

Lamb sales to the foodservice sector were the hardest hit by the pandemic as high-end restaurants, hotels and cruise lines shut down virtually overnight in March 2020. Typically, more than 50 percent of all American lamb products were marketed to those industries. The loss of sales played a role in the bankruptcy of Mountain States Rosen – the second-largest lamb processor in the United States – and created additional issues for America’s sheep producers as they struggled to get their lambs harvested in 2020.

Total CFAP payments to the American sheep industry look like this:

  • $49,958,624for lambs less than 2 years of age;
  • $15,133,875 for sheep more than 2 years of age;
  • $2,669,294 for non-graded wool;
  • $1,592,257 for graded wool.

The first round of CFAP payments totaled $69,354,049 to the American sheep industry, while producers have claimed even more of the available funds in the second round of CFAP payments, to the tune of $87,132,765, for a total of $156,486,815.

Click Here for a state-by-state breakdown of CFAP funds awarded.


Texas Lab Becomes Nation’s Largest Wool Testing Facility

Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s wool lab is poised to become the nation’s largest commercial wool testing lab. Already one of just two academic wool labs in the country, AgriLife Research’s lab is now transitioning to also accommodate the testing needs of the domestic wool trade.

The Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory in San Angelo is partnering with the American Sheep Industry Association to upgrade with state of the art equipment to service the entire nation’s commercial wool testing needs. Currently, the commercial American wool industry must rely on labs overseas for testing, after the closure of the sole domestic testing facility in 2020.

“With the closure of the testing lab in Colorado, we felt it was crucial to expand so producers aren’t reliant on overseas testing services,” said Reid Redden, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service sheep and goat specialist and Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center interim director, San Angelo.

“With the addition of more equipment and personnel, we will be able to handle the testing needs of the entire U.S. commercial wool trade.”

The critical work done in San Angelo has already been key for ensuring international wool imports meet the specifications of U.S. textile mills and that American exported wool meets global standards.

Ronald Pope, Ph.D., AgriLife Research animal fiber scientist, added that knowing which animals produce the best fiber is crucial in making genetic decisions that improve breeding programs and their associated bottom lines.

The lab utilizes more than $1 million in equipment, which includes infrared, microscopes and lasers to scientifically analyze the fiber samples. ASI will aid in procuring additional equipment in the near future to expand the lab’s analysis capabilities.

“We are so excited to be expanding to better serve the American wool industry and our producers,” Pope said. “This is important not just for AgriLife and our community, but fiber producers across the entire country.”

Source: Texas A&M AgriLife


Webinar Series Discusses use of Genomics in Sheep

A series of webinars on sheep genomics has been scheduled for the coming month. While the first webinar (A New Age in Sheep Breeding) was earlier this week, producers interested in using genomics in their operations should plan to attend the three remaining webinars in March.

Click Here to register for the What Are Genomic-Enhanced Estimated Breeding Values webinar on March 2. The webinar will be led by Dr. Ron Lewis of the University of Nebraska.

Click Here to register for the How Do Genomic-Enhanced Estimated Breeding Values Impact Selection webinar on March 16. Dr. Scott Greiner of Virginia Tech will lead the webinar.

Click Here to register for the Genomic Sample Collection and Data Submission Process webinar on March 23. Lynn Fahrmeier and Tom Hodgman will lead the discussion during the final webinar of the series.

Participants must register separately for each webinar, but registration is free. Read more about the use of genomic-enhanced estimated breeding values and their use in Katahdins in the March issue of the Sheep Industry News.


Second Lamb Summit Postponed to 2022

The next American Lamb Summit has been rescheduled to Aug. 8–10, 2022, at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich. The postponement is due to the ongoing pandemic situation.

The second Lamb Summit will continue to focus and expand on the goals of the first Lamb Summit held in Fort Collins, Colo., in 2019:

  • Increase the quality and consistency of American lamb;
  • Improve the American lamb industry’s competitiveness and productivity.

The American Lamb Summit is an educational conference designed to inspire production improvements and collaboration among all segments of the American lamb industry. Premier 1 Supplies, the American Lamb Board, Michigan State University and the Michigan Sheep Producers Association are partnering to host this this unique educational event.

Click Here to learn more.


USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers

Most of the nation is facing unusually cold weather as a winter storm moved coast-to-coast during the weekend. Winter storms create significant challenges and often result in catastrophic loss for agricultural producers, especially for those raising livestock, row crops and vulnerable crops such as citrus.

Despite every attempt to mitigate risk, your operation may suffer losses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers several programs to help with recovery.

Click Here to learn more.

Source: USDA


Australian Market Continues Strong Run in 2021

The Australian wool market made strong upward movements this week, with nearly all sectors of the market recording large gains. Spirited bidding from multiple buying companies pushed prices higher from the opening lot, with all prices generally continuing to strengthen as the series progressed.

The largest price increases were experienced in the 18.0- to 21.0-micron range. By week’s end the individual Micron Price Guides in this range had risen by between 62 and 111 cents. As the finer microns continue to rise at a greater rate than the broads, the price differentials between microns continues to widen. At the opening sale of this calendar year, the average price difference between the 18.0 MPGs and the 21.0 MPGs was 444 cents. By the close of this week’s series, that difference had extended to 569 cents.

On the back of the strong gains in the Merino MPGs, the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator rose by 43 cents, closing at 1,318 Australian cents – a 3.4-percent increase. Due to currency movements, when viewed in U.S. dollar terms, the rise in the EMI was marginally higher as the EMI added 37 U.S. cents, closing at 1,022 cents for a 3.8-percent rise. The EMI has now risen in four out of the six sales held so far in the 2021 calendar year, adding a total of 161 cents during this period for a gain of 13.9 percent. The EMI is now at its highest point since March 2020.

The oddments were the only sector to record losses this series. The three Merino Carding Indicators dropped by an average of 17 cents. The negative movement in this sector prevented the EMI from posting a larger gain than it did. The large price increases have enticed more sellers to the market, pushing next week’s national offering higher. There are currently 52,614 bales on offer in Melbourne, Fremantle and Sydney (which is a designated Superfine sale).

Source: AWEX


Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Sparks Sale of Rare Breed Wool

One of the best ways to save critically endangered livestock and poultry is to create a market for their products. Increasing awareness and demand for products made from heritage breed animals makes conservation economically viable for the farmers who raise them. Launched in February 2019, The Livestock Conservancy’s Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Initiative continues to dramatically impact the financial success of rare breed shepherds by putting sheep back to work on the farm.

“I farm in an economically depressed market, which makes marketing my fiber particularly challenging,” said Charis Walker, a Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em fiber provider who raises Tunis sheep. “Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em allowed me to sell all of my roving, yarn and fleeces within two weeks of listing it on Etsy. When I started my flock, I was concerned about how I would sell my fiber. This program has exceeded my expectations and allows me to more effectively promote the breed to my guild members, my local community and the fiber community at large. The impact can be measured in my sales and traffic to my Etsy site and website. My ability to grow my flock larger than my original intention is tied in large part to the interest in my fiber and breeding stock, which I credit to Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em.”

Like Walker, many of the more than 900 Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em fiber providers are seeing an uptick in their sales for the past two years. A recent survey of those fiber providers indicated that 37 percent of shepherds had sold 50 to 200 percent more wool than before joining the initiative. Driving the demand for rare breed wool are the more than 2,100 fiber artists working to fill their Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em passports with stickers for projects completed using the wool or hair from 23 rare breeds of sheep.

“I was so excited to sign up for Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em just to get connected with folks raising rare breeds and other yarnies,” said Michelle Holtkamp, the 2000th fiber artist to sign up for the initiative. “Here’s to many thousands more makers getting to connect with farmers and fiber folk. I love the work this program is doing.”

Before joining the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Initiative, some fiber providers composted their fleeces because there was no demand for them from consumers. Now they can sell directly to fiber artists and connect with each other through social media. In addition to fostering creativity and community, the program also educates shepherds about preparing their wool for sale and how to reach customers and fiber artists, making it more profitable to raise heritage breed sheep. A win-win for everyone involved.

Source: The Livestock Conservancy


Oregon’s Krebs Elected NCBA Region V Vice President

Skye Krebs, a native of Ione, Ore., was elected as Region V vice president for policy for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association during its regional caucus. Krebs’ roots in the cattle industry run deep, as his family has been ranching in Eastern Oregon for more than 100 years. He and his wife, Penny, own and operate Krebs Sheep Company, where they raise both sheep and cattle in Ione and Wallowa, Ore.

Krebs is a member of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, where he currently serves as the Public Lands Council endowment protector chairman, a position he has held since 2011. He also serves as the Wallowa County Animal Damage Control District secretary. In addition, Krebs is involved in the Oregon Sheep Growers Association and the Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni Board.

Throughout their three-year terms, NCBA regional vice presidents serve as chair of their regional membership committee. Regional vice presidents play a critical role in coordinating regional member activities. They also coordinate regional activities and communications with the Federation Division Regional Vice Presidents from their respective regions.

Source: East Oregonian

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