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ASI Elects New Leadership at Annual Convention

Following one of the most difficult years in the history of the American sheep industry, Susan Shultz of Ohio has been elected to lead the American Sheep Industry Association as its next president. Shultz was unanimously elected during the final day of the sheep industry’s 156th Annual Convention on Jan. 29.

Shultz had served as vice president the past two years and as secretary/treasurer the two years prior to that. Also moving up the officer chain was Wyoming’s Brad Boner, who was elected vice president after two years as secretary/treasurer. The two are joined by newly elected secretary/treasurer Ben Lehfeldt of Montana. Benny Cox of Texas moves into the past president position, replacing Mike Corn of New Mexico to round out the association’s slate of officers for the next two years.

“I’m so proud to serve as ASI president,” said Shultz. “It’s such a special accomplishment for both Bill (her husband) and I because the sheep industry has always been such a special part of our lives. I welcome the opportunity to give back to an industry that has given so much to me all these years.”

Shultz operates Bunker Hill Farm with Bill, and their son, Joe, in DeGraff, Ohio. The family raises Suffolks these days, but the farm traces back to the 1930s and has been home to Shropshires and Rambouillets in the past. As an active participant in the National Sheep Improvement Program and former chair of ASI’s Let’s Grow Committee, Shultz has shown a dedication to embracing technology (including the use of estimated breeding values) to continue to improve the American sheep industry. As a seedstock producer, Shultz and Bunker Hill Farm produce black-faced terminal sires for the heavy, lean lamb market. Terminal sires from the farm have been used all across the United States, including by a contingent of Western range operators.

“I think we’ve done a good job in recent years of really engaging all of the Executive Board members in guiding our industry. These men and women are such a wealth of knowledge of all aspects of the industry. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of producers in recent years – many of whom come to our industry without an extensive sheep or livestock background. So, there’s a real need out there for education. We also need to lead our industry into opportunities to increase profits and provide for continued growth.”

Boner is a past president of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association who previously served as the Region VII director to the ASI Executive Board. In that capacity he represented Idaho, Montana and Wyoming within the association. He left that position in 2019 when he was elected secretary/treasurer of ASI and now moves into the role of vice president.

A sheep and cattle producer in Glenrock, Wyo., Boner previously was chairman of the Mountain States Lamb Cooperative and has worked tirelessly for the sheep industry as a part of ASI’s Wool Council, Lamb Council and Let’s Grow Committee.

A fifth-generation sheep rancher from Montana, Lehfeldt’s family has been involved in the sheep industry for 135 years. Lehfeldt has served on ASI’s Wool Council and is a director for the Montana Wool Growers Association. In addition, he served on the American Lamb Board and has been the sheep industry representative to the National Grazing Lands Coalition.

Three current representatives to the ASI Executive Board were reelected by the regions they represent and were joined by two newly elected regional directors. Steve Clements of South Dakota (Region IV), Sarah Smith of Washington (Region VIII) and Bob Harlan of the National Lamb Feeders Association were reelected. They are joined on the ASI Executive Board by Lisa Weeks of Virginia (Region II) and Bronson Corn (Region VI), who were both elected by their regions to serve on the ASI Executive Board for the first time. Executive Board members Laurie Hubbard (Region I), Anne Crider (Region III), Tammy Fisher (Region V) and Randy Tunby (Region VII) continue to serve in those roles to fill out the executive board for 2021.

Look for complete coverage of the 2021 ASI Annual Convention in the March issue of the Sheep Industry News.


USDA/ARS Schedules Stakeholders Session on Sheep Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service will hold a Sheep Industry Focused Listening Session on Tuesday, Feb. 9, from 1 – 4 p.m. central standard time to discuss research priorities for the ARS sheep research programs at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, and the Dale Bumpers Research Center in Booneville, Ark.

The meeting ID is 160 927 9222; and the passcode is 009638.

Click Here to join the ZoomGov Meeting on Feb. 9.


Coalition Calls for Reevaluating Scrapie Import Rule

A coalition of senators and representatives sent a letter in late January to Acting Secretary Kevin Shea of the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerning the status of the Importation of Sheep, Goats and Certain Other Ruminants Rule, also known as the Scrapie Import Rule.

While the American Sheep Industry Association has repeatedly asked USDA to prioritize export opportunities for American lamb, this rule would have “severe consequences for American sheep producers,” according to the letter signed by senators from North Dakota and Wyoming, as well as congressional representatives from North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

“This rule has severe consequences for American sheep producers including:

“Allowing additional imports of lamb from countries (including the United Kingdom) who have an unfair trade advantage due to being highly governmentally subsidized. Our market is already overcrowded, with more than half of all lamb consumed being imported.

“Undercutting efforts to open markets for American lamb. The United States will lose its leverage to negotiate lamb exports to the United Kingdom.

“Allowing animals and genetic materials into the United States that are scrapie positive. Not only does this create a flock health issue for producers, but it keeps the door closed to important trade partners such as Japan. Prior to the market closure, Japan was the top valued export market for American lamb.

“Risking introduction of a new disease into United States flocks, Schmallenberg Virus (SBV).

“Please reevaluate this rule prior to its implementation based on current market conditions. It diminishes our global market position, further damages our struggling lamb industry, and lacks an economic analysis that reflects current market conditions.”


Catch Convention Videos on YouTube

Sheep producers who didn’t attend the American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention last week can catch up on some of what they missed via the association’s YouTube channel.

Videos of the Opening Session (featuring a panel of lamb processors), the Keynote Speaker, the Lamb Council and the Genetic Stakeholders Committee are all available. Additionally, three presentations from the Production, Education and Research Council are also available on YouTube.

Click Here to go to the ASI YouTube Channel.


ASI Asks Producers to Complete Survey

The American Sheep Industry Association is conducting an online survey on animal identification and animal disease traceability systems. The objective of this survey is to acquire information from sheep producers on their use of animal identification systems and the implementation of a national animal disease traceability program.

The survey will close on March 5.

Click Here for the survey.


American Sheep Inventory Down 1 Percent in 2020

The American sheep inventory totaled 5.17 million head – down 1 percent from a year ago – as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service on Jan. 29. Breeding ewes, ewes 1 year of age and older and the lamb crop were all down 1 percent, as well according to the report.

Shorn wool production was down 4 percent to 23.1 million pounds in 2020. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.28 million head, while the average price for wool sold in 2020 was $1.66 per pound for a total of $34.8 million – down 15 percent from 2019.

In a bit of good news, however, sheep death loss during 2020 was down 4 percent from the previous year, while lamb death loss was down 5 percent. However, the total numbers on sheep death loss (210,000) and lamb death loss (388,000) were still higher than any producer would like them to be.

Texas is still the top sheep producing state at 730,000 with California (555,000), Colorado (445,000), Wyoming (340,000) and Utah (285,000) rounding out the top five. As has been the case in recent years, however, the largest increases (based on percentage) in sheep population were in the Eastern half of the United States. Tennessee, Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, the New England region and Indiana posted increases in 2020. Among Western states, only Arizona and Colorado recorded increases.

Click Here for the full report.


Livestock Conservancy Celebrates Sheep Month

Followers of the Livestock Conservancy will notice some extra sheep content this month on the group’s social media channels as the organization designates February as Sheep Month.

The Livestock Conservancy will host Sheep Chats each Tuesday at 2 p.m. eastern time on Facebook Live. Guests this month will include: Dr. Marie Minnich of Marushka Farms; Nikyle Begay and a panel of Navajo shepherds and weavers; Lisa Pregent, livestock manager at George Washington’s Mount Vernon; and Lexie Hain of the American Solar Grazing Association.

One special event of interest will be a Barn Chat with actress/model/conservationist/farmer Isabella Rossellini and artist Katya Ekimian on Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. eastern time.

“We’ll chat with these two fashion mavens about how making connections to the animals that provide sustainable fiber can be improved and celebrated, how their work contributes to a greener earth through more education and conscientious consumerism,” read an event announcement from The Livestock Conservancy. “Isabella has created a scholarship fund at Parsons School of Design in support of students who research and integrate wool from heritage breed sheep into their collections.”

“Katya’s focus on biodiversity with wool, is incubating her brand, Ovis Aries, which is created with wool from rare sheep that she sources from farms across the United States.”

The Livestock Conservancy is also celebrating the third year of its popular Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Initiative that began in February 2019. Through online communities such as Facebook and Ravelry, artists connect with each other, share photos of their projects, receive advice and get to know the shepherds stewarding the rare sheep.

Click Here for more information.

Source: The Livestock Conservancy


Research Update Podcast: Shearing 101

Australian shearer Mike Pora regularly teaches shearing schools in the United States and was the guest on the January edition of the ASI Research Update Podcast to discuss Shearing 101.

Click Here to listen to the podcast.


BIT Produces Wool Felt for Industrial Use

Did you know that wool felt is widely used in industrial applications, especially in thermal insulation, acoustical insulation, gasket materials and saddle pads?

BIT – Bouckaert Industrial Textiles – is the largest manufacturer of industrial felt products in North America and uses the technical process of needling to produce its wool felt.

Click Here to read more about the industrial uses of wool felt.


Australian Wool Market Shows Mixed Results

The Australian wool market performed with mixed results across the three selling centers this week.

Melbourne recorded losses across all Merino Price Guides of between 3 and 24 cents. Sydney posted movements in its MPGs of between -1 and +21 cents. The Fremantle region – which suffered significant losses – when selling last on the final day of the previous series (which Sydney and Melbourne did not) had solid increases in its MPGs of between 22 and 50 cents.

The national offering increased to 45,126 bales – 5,285 bales more than the previous week. This larger offering helped to push this season’s offering above that from the corresponding sale of the previous season. There have been 4,717 more bales offered in the 2020-21 season than in 2019-20.

After the Eastern Market Indicator rose for the first three sales of this calendar year – increasing by 134 cents (the largest gain in nearly a decade) – the EMI recorded a minimal loss this series. The EMI dropped 6 cents to close at 1,285 Australian cents – a fall of just 0.5 percent. Due to a slight softening in the Australian dollar, the fall in U.S. dollar terms was marginally higher. The EMI dropped 7 U.S. cents – a reduction of 0.7 percent.

This series, the total dollar amount of wool sold passed the $1 billion mark for the season. Last season, this feat was achieved in Week 24. Overall reduced prices meant that five extra sales were required for this milestone to be reached this season.

After being the strongest performing sector the previous three weeks, the oddments were the only section of the market to record overall losses in all three centers. This was reflected in the three Merino Carding indicators, which dropped by an average of 17 cents.

Next week’s national offering increases again, with Melbourne requiring three selling days to accommodate the extra quantity. Currently, there are 52,822 bales available.

Source: AWEX

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