Image of sheep

Convention App is Live

You don’t have to wait until you arrive in Denver next week to get the 2024 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention fun started. Grab your smartphone, download the Whova app and you can get the party started this weekend.

The app will allow you online access to the convention schedule, meeting agendas and speaker bios. But it’s also a place to interact, to share photos, to make plans for carpools and social activities, and more. Once you’re onsite in Denver, there’s additional features that will be useful, such as a lost and found message board, a map of the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel and more.

You’ll need the email address you used to register for the convention to join the 2024 ASI Annual Convention community on Whova.

Click Here for more information.

Click Here to download for Iphones.

Click Here to download for Android phones.

San Angelo Lab Approved for Core Testing

Christmas came early for the American Sheep Industry Association as the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory in San Angelo, Texas, was approved to provide core testing for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Assistance Loan and Loan Deficiency Program.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced the approval on Dec. 21, 2023. In recent years, only a facility in New Zealand was approved by USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation to handle such testing to qualify for a graded wool loan or payment.

The American Sheep Industry Association, its for-profit Sheep Venture Company, the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and Texas A&M University all invested significant funds to bring the longtime wool lab at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo from research to commercial testing after the close of Yocom-McColl Testing Laboratories in 2020.

“ASI is very appreciative of the Farm Service Agency working with us this year to update the approved laboratory list. Keeping USDA programs in line with changes in the sheep industry is important and with the American wool lab doing half or more of the nation’s core testing, this was a critical update,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick.

Click Here to learn more.

Click Here to check out current loan rates.

Look for more information in the February issue of the Sheep Industry News.

Source: USDA


USDA Announces 2024 Wool MAL Rates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Commodity Credit Corporation announced in late December the Marketing Assistance Loan rates for 2024 crop graded wool by micron class. Loan rates for ungraded wool are unchanged and remained the same from the prior crop year.

Marketing Assistance Loans and Loan Deficiency Payments – which are marketing tools available to producers upon harvest or shearing – are available for graded wool, ungraded wool and mohair. Unshorn pelts are eligible for LDP only. The unshorn pelt LDP rate is based on the ungraded wool LDP rate multiplied by the average weight of an unshorn pelt (6.865 pounds).

Here are the rates (per pound, clean basis) for graded wool:

  • Less than 18.6 microns: $4.43.
  • 6 to 19.5 microns: $3.93.
  • 6 to 20.5 microns: $3.64.
  • 6 to 22 microns: $3.43.
  • 1 to 23.5 microns: $3.18.
  • 6 to 25.9 microns: $2.27.
  • 26 to 28.9 microns: $1.04.
  • 29 microns and higher: $0.76.

The loan rate for ungraded wool remains $0.40 per pound on a greasy basis.

Marketing Assistance Loans provide producers interim financing at harvest time to meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are typically at harvest-time lows. Loan Deficiency Payments are payments made to producers who, although eligible to obtain a CCC loan, agree to forgo the loan in return for a payment on the eligible commodity.

Click Here for more information.

Source: USDA


MWGA Hiring Sale Manager

The Montana Wool Growers Association is looking to hire a manager for the Montana Ram and Ewe Sales in Miles City, Mont. The Montana Ram Sale markets nearly 300 head of rams and the Montana Ewe Sale markets approximately 1,000 ewes each September. This sale has a long-standing history and reputation for quality genetics.

Communication will be key in this position, as the manager will be working with up to 30 consignor families, a sale committee of five members, and the MWGA executive secretary. Candidates must be organized and dedicated to record keeping.

The ideal candidate would understand the sheep industry, have experience with livestock sales, be competent in using Microsoft Office, comfortable learning new computer programs, and be technologically savvy – Adobe InDesign experience is a plus. This position is remote. Most of the work can be accomplished by phone, email and online meetings. The candidate would need to be present in Miles City during sale week – the second full week of September each year – and also for two days the week before the sale for setup. The bulk of the duties are concentrated into August and September.

Interested candidates, please send a cover letter, resume and professional references  to MWGA Executive Secretary Stefanie Leach at no later than Jan. 20. Please send as a pdf, and title the email Montana Ram and Ewe Sale Manager Application. The cover letter should express why you are applying for the position and how past experiences, employment and education qualify you for the position. References will be checked. Interviews will take place mid-February in Billings, Mont.

Source: MWGA


ALB Announces Targeted Grazing Workshops

Rapid development of utility scale solar farms across the country has stimulated significant need for sheep grazing as a means of vegetation management. There are also increasing opportunities for sheep grazing contracts in wildfire-prone areas and vineyards. Sheep grazing helps to eliminate dried plants that might otherwise become wildfire fuel and grazing in vineyards and other areas helps clear weeds while reducing or eliminating herbicide use.

These paid grazing contracts present tremendous opportunity for growth of the American sheep flock, improving the availability and price competitiveness of American lamb, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through green energy production and biological vegetation management. These grazing opportunities offer current and emerging sheep producers the opportunity to increase their profitability and grow flock numbers.

Training is needed to ensure sheep producers are prepared to take advantage of these grazing contract opportunities.

“Improving the sustainability of the U.S. sheep industry through profitable growth is a top priority of the American Lamb Board,” says ALB Chair Peter Camino. “ALB is committed to ensuring new and experienced shepherds receive education and resources to become successful contract grazers.”

ALB’s grazing workshops are designed to outline new and existing opportunities through targeted grazing across the United States, including fire suppression, vineyards and solar grazing.

Producers who attend will have an opportunity to learn about the in-depth process of using sheep to provide a grazing service. From animal performance to contracts and business setup, the goal is to provide grazers with the tools to be successful service providers and profitable shepherds.

The three grazing workshops in 2024 will be in:

  • Temple, Texas, May 8-10.
  • Roxboro, N.C., May 20-22.
  • California, Summer.

Attendance is limited to 50 producers per workshop and the registration fee is $200. For more information and to register, contact Camren Maierle at

Source: ALB


Small Ruminant Webinars Planned

The University of Wisconsin Extension and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach have scheduled four small ruminant webinars in early 2024.

The schedule is as follows:

  • 24: Abortion & Respiratory Diseases in Sheep and Goats with Maggie Highland, DVM, Ph.D., DAVCP.
  • 21: Lamb and Kid Care with Rosie Busch, DVM.
  • March 27: The National Sheep Improvement Program with Rusty Burgett.
  • April 24: Feeding Your Flock’s Genetic Potential with Proper Nutritional Management with Dr. Andrew Weaver.

Click Here to learn more.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension


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.

USDA, USTR Seek Trade Advisory Members

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced they are accepting applications for new members to serve on agricultural trade advisory committees.

Members of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee provide advice to the administration on the implementation and enforcement of existing U.S. trade agreements, negotiations of new agreements and other trade policy matters.

Members of the six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees provide technical advice and recommendations on international issues that affect differing sectors of agricultural commodities. The ATACs focus on trade in: animal and animal products; fruits and vegetables; grains, feed, oilseeds, and planting seeds; processed foods; sweeteners and sweetener products; and tobacco, cotton, peanuts and hemp. Applicants must have expertise in their intended committee field and be willing to serve a four-year term.

Applications for the trade advisory committees are due by Jan. 31, and can be found here.

USDA Announces Staff Appointments

Toward the end of December, USDA announced several new senior staff appointments for its Washington, D.C., office.

Georgette Furukawa has been appointed to be the chief of staff for the Agricultural Marketing Service. Prior to her new role, she served as an advisor in the White House to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander team in the Office of the Chief of Staff. Through her past roles she brings more than 20 years of experience in the business, government and non-profit sectors.

Betsy Dirksen has been named administrator for the Rural Business Cooperative-Service. Prior to her role, she served as the USDA’s Rural Development state director for Illinois since the beginning of 2022. Dirksen comes from a farming background in central Illinois and brings more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, working with community, regional and state leaders to effect positive change.

Kevin Shea has been tapped to be senior advisor in the Office of the Deputy Secretary. Prior to his role, he served as administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service since 2013. He had more than 40 years of experience at the agency.

Dr. Michael Watson has been named the new administrator of APHIS. Prior to his appointment, he served as the associate administrator since 2018, where he worked closely with the previous administrator to oversee the day-to-day operations of the agency. While most of his career has been spent at USDA, Watson brings in experience from other federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Skip to content