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NASS Releases Sheep Inventory Report

The 2024 Sheep and Goats Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service showed a 2 percent decline in several key areas, including total sheep population, lamb crop and wool production. The report was released on Wednesday.

The entire sheep and lamb inventory in the United States totaled 5.03 million head on Jan. 1. Breeding sheep inventory stood at 3.67 million head. The 2023 lamb crop was 3.03 million head and the lambing rate was 103 lambs per 100 ewes 1-year-old or older.

Shorn wool production dropped 2 percent to 22.7 million pounds, and the average price paid for wool sold in 2023 was $1.56 per pound for a total value of $35.3 million.

Oklahoma saw the largest percentage increase in sheep and lamb population with a 117 percent increase as its population rose from 60,000 to 70,000. Texas saw its total population drop from 680,000 to 655,000, but remains the largest sheep producing state. California (500,000), Colorado (400,000), Wyoming (320,000) and Utah (270,000) continued to round out the top five in total sheep population. However, all of the states in the top five saw a minor decline in their overall sheep numbers.

As for wool production, California and Wyoming tied for the top spot among states at 2.3 million pounds, with Colorado third at 2.28 million pounds. Utah (2.2 million) and Idaho (1.51 million) rounded out the top five in wool production.

Click Here for the full report.


Research Update: NAHMS Sheep Study

The January ASI Research Update podcast was released earlier this week as host Jake Thorne, Ph.D., visits with Natalie Urie, DVM, of the National Animal Health Monitoring System about the organization’s 2024 Sheep Study.

“We started planning and preparing for the sheep study in 2020, and we’ve finally hit the point of data collection, which is always an exciting milestone,” said Urie, who grew up on a small sheep farm in Michigan. “Data collection for the 2024 NAHMS Sheep Study has two phases. The first phase is completed in collaboration with the National Agricultural Statistics Service and is occurring now through the end of February. So, if you receive mail from NASS, please open it and complete the questionnaire. In the last section of the questionnaire, we ask if you’d like to participate in phase two of the study. So, phase two is targeting operations with 20 or more ewes.”

Phase two would include an additional questionnaire, as well as a visit to your farm or ranch for biological testing. Those visits can occur anytime between April and July of this year.

Click Here to listen to the podcast.


Australian Wool Market Slides Again

The Australian wool market recorded an overall reduction this week – the third consecutive negative series. The softer market has done little to encourage sellers as the national quantity also reduced for the third consecutive time. There were just 32,899 bales offered during this week’s sale – 4,858 bales less than the previous week.

Although buyer demand was there, from the opening bell the prices they were prepared to pay were noticeably below those on offer at the close of the previous week’s auction. By the close of the first day, the individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece had fallen by between 1 and 63 cents. Only the 20-micron MPG in the West posted an increase (+1 cent). The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator fell by 12 cents.

On the second selling day, the market settled to a fair degree with many pockets recording increases. The MPG movements for 17 micron and coarser ranged between +20 and -8 cents. Strong demand for wool 20 micron and coarser pushed these MPGs higher. The EMI dropped 3 cents for the day. The EMI has not had a daily gain since the opening sale of the calendar year on Jan. 10. In the eight selling days since, the EMI has dropped by 46 cents for a fall of 3.8 percent.

The skirting market tracked the fleece as general losses of between 20 and 30 cents were recorded. The broader crossbred wool (28 micron and coarser) performed solidly with the MPGs ranging from unchanged to +5 cents. The oddments were the other highlight and the only sector to record an overall positive result. Strong demand helped push the three Merino Carding indicators up by an average of more than 8 cents.

The run of smaller sales is forecast to end, as 11,369 more bales are expected to be available next week. There are currently 44,268 bales rostered for sale nationally.

Source: AWEX


Maryland Festival Hosting Online Winterfest

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is hosting its third annual Winterfest – a two-day event offering virtual seminars on everything from solar grazing to fiber arts – this weekend.

Shepherd’s seminars include:

  • Solar Grazing for Beginners with Emily Chamelin.
  • So, You’re Thinking About Adding a Livestock Guardian Dog: Here’s What You Need To Know with Rebecca Miller.
  • Everything But the Baaa: Maximizing Your Flock’s Value Through Farm to Retail with Sarah Campbell.

Fiber Arts seminars include:

  • Kate Atherley – Knitting.
  • Maggie Casey – Spinning.
  • Roy Clemes – Fiber Prep.
  • Shana Cohen – Knitting.
  • Jill Duarte – Spinning.
  • Laura Lineman – Knitting and Spinning.
  • Sarah Schira – Knitting.
  • Emily Wohlscheid – Fiber Prep and Spinning.

The Winterfest keynote lecture will be on Sunday afternoon and features Lee Langstaff discussing A Year in the Life of a Handspinning Flock.

Click Here for more information.


BLM, USFS Announce 2024 Grazing Fees

The federal grazing fee for 2024 remains $1.35 per animal unit month for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month for lands managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.

An animal unit month or head month – treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes – is the use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. The newly calculated grazing fee takes effect March 1. The fee will apply to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and nearly 6,250 permits administered by the Forest Service.

The formula used for calculating the grazing fee was established by Congress in the 1978 Public Rangelands Improvement Act and has remained in use under a 1986 presidential Executive Order. Under that order, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per animal unit month/head month, and any increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level.

The annually determined grazing fee is established using a 1966 base value of $1.23 per animal unit month/head month for livestock grazing on public lands in Western states. The figure is then calculated according to three factors: current private grazing land lease rates, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. In effect, the fee rises, falls or stays the same based on market conditions.

The BLM and Forest Service are committed to strong relationships with the ranching community and work closely with permittees to ensure public rangelands remain healthy, productive working landscapes. The grazing fee applies in 16 Western states on public lands administered by the BLM and the Forest Service.

Permit holders and lessees may contact their local BLM or Forest Service office for additional information.

Source: BLM


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.

EPA Publishes Effluent Water Amendment

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency published to the Federal Register its proposal to establish new guidelines for effluent water discharges from meat and poultry processing establishments.

EPA’s intent of the proposed rule is to improve water quality and protect human health and the environment by reducing the discharge of nutrients and other pollutants into American surface waters contributed by the MPP industry. Interested parties can view and submit comments on the proposed rule here. EPA is accepting comments from the public through March 25.


FSA Announces Online Loan Payments

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency announced that most farmers and ranchers will be able to pay their direct loans online beginning in early February. The announcement was part of a broader FSA effort to streamline its processes to make its programs more accessible.

To pay loans online, producers must have a USDA customer account and a USDA Level 2 eAuthentication account. Once established, borrowers will be able to make payments through the new “Pay My Loan” feature on


Lamb Lovers Month is Back

The American Lamb Board is kicking off Lamb Lover’s Month this February with an exciting campaign. The Show Us Your Chops campaign invites consumers to enjoy savory lamb chops at their favorite restaurant or cook their favorite recipe at home.

The promotion features rack and loin chop recipes to help consumers create a romantic date night or a special dinner with friends or family featuring delicious American lamb. Consumers are then invited to share photos of their lamb chops – at a restaurant or at home – on the ALB consumer website or on social media with the hashtag #showusyourchops. The contest will be promoted through social media advertising and sponsored blogger content throughout February.

“While Lamb Lovers Month has become a tradition for ALB, it’s also a very effective promotion for reaching new consumers with recipes and information about American lamb to expand usage beyond the traditional holidays,” said Jeff Ebert, ALB chairman.

Everyone who enters the Show Your Chops promotion will receive an insulated Lamb Lovers grocery bag and a Show Us Your Chops recipe booklet. In addition, participants will be entered into multiple drawings for a heart-shaped Dutch oven.

ALB has partnered once again with Kittch, a food-centric live-streaming platform for a new generation of culinary enthusiasts who love to cook. The site will host two chef-led virtual cooking classes featuring chop recipes and promoting Lamb Lovers Month this month.

In addition to the consumer promotion, ALB is reaching out to butcher shops with promotional items and giveaways to promote American lamb through small retail locations. ALB is also running a chef lamb chops recipe contest and sending LLM kits to foodservice and consumer media featuring loin chops, recipes and campaign materials.

Lamb Lovers Month is just one seasonal Lamb Checkoff promotion encouraging consumers to choose American lamb year-round.

To help spread the word that February is Lamb Lovers Month, use the following hashtags on your social channels, #fanoflamb #showusyourchops or for any of the LLM creative assets please contact

Source: ALB


Fair Labels Act Introduced in Congress

Congressman Mark Alford (Mo.) proudly led the introduction of the Fair Labels Act of 2024 this week. This bipartisan and bicameral bill marks a significant step toward greater transparency in food labeling. This legislation is designed to ensure consumers have accurate information about plant-based and cell-cultured protein (lab-grown) products when making purchasing decisions.

The legislation includes:

  • Enhanced Clarity: The act defines “imitation meat” and “imitation poultry” to help consumers easily identify plant-based protein products that visually resemble or are represented as meat or poultry but are derived from plant sources.
  • Authority and Inspection: The U.S. Department of Agriculture will oversee the labeling of these products, working alongside the Food and Drug Administration to maintain product inspection standards.
  • Labeling Requirements: Product labels will be required to use terms like “imitation” or similar descriptors, along with a clear disclaimer if the product does not contain meat or poultry.
  • Definition of Cell-Cultured (Lab Grown) Products: The act provides a clear definition of cell-cultured meat and poultry products, ensuring that labels accurately reflect lab-grown food sources.
  • Regulatory Framework Confirmation: This legislation confirms the shared jurisdiction of the FDA and USDA in overseeing lab-grown meat and poultry, solidifying the cooperative agreement for labeling.

“The American consumer deserves to know what they are eating and feeding their families,” said Congressman Alford. “Whether they choose protein substitutes like plant-based or lab-grown protein or traditionally raised meat, the product should be labeled clearly. Farmers and ranchers across the country work from sun-up to sun-down to produce high-quality and nutritious meat for consumers. It is only fair that all products are labeled fairly. This begins with transparent and appropriate labeling laws which our legislation requires. I’m proud to introduce the FAIR Labels Act of 2024 on the federal level, especially given that Missouri was the first state to pass marketing with integrity legislation.”

“ASI is pleased to support this legislation as it addresses a critical need to accurately update labels to the protein choices consumers have today,” said American Sheep Industry Association Executive Director Peter Orwick.

Source: Congressman Mark Alford



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