ASI Annual Convention Wraps Up in Denver
The first hour of the Lamb Council meeting at the 2024 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention in Denver last week drew a larger than average crowd as representatives from Watts and Associates conducted the final listening session on creating a new federal risk management program for the sheep industry.
As was the case with previous listening sessions, some producers arrived expecting to hear the details of a product that will essentially replace the previous LRP-Lamb program. But a replacement program doesn’t currently exist. The sessions were designed to give producers a voice in developing a program that might be developed down the road.
“This is just a feasibility study,” said Mark Boyd of Watts and Associates, which conducted three listening sessions in-person and one online. “We’ll submit a report to the (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s) Risk Management Agency in the next month.”
Boyd said the listening sessions looked to determine what insurance products would be most beneficial to the American sheep industry, including the possibility of covering such things as mortality, yield, price, revenue, etc.
The main deficiency of the previous lamb insurance program was the lack of price reporting due to consolidation within the industry. That problem still exists more than two years after LRP-Lamb went away for good, and the issue will have to be addressed in some form if a new insurance product is to be made available in the future. The decision on whether or not to move forward will soon be in the hands of RMA.
The opening session of the convention hosted a farm bill panel which featured senior staff from the Agriculture Committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Justin Benavidez with Chairman G.T. Thompson’s staff and Trey Forsyth with Ranking Member John Boozman’s team provided a comprehensive overview of the upcoming Farm Bill with respect to funding and the current legislative calendar, as well touching on key priorities important to the sheep and livestock industry.
In other news from the convention, ASI President Brad Boner of Wyoming and ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick addressed the ongoing issue of lamb imports – an issue Orwick said has plagued the American sheep industry since the loss of the National Wool Act in the 1990s that led to a dramatic decrease in the American flock. ASI investigated all aspects of filing a trade case against imports from Australia and New Zealand, but legal experts advised that even a victory would provide minimal relief when factoring in estimated legal costs of more than $1 million.
“Two things I think we need to do, not be shy about telling them we have a lawyer on retainer and we’re going to continue to watch this like a hawk,” Boner said. “And continue to make sure that if they ever stub their toe and give us a window, we’ll be ready.”
On the wool side, the ASI Board of Directors heard from a panel of innovators, including David Fisher of Texas, John Helle of Montana and Bob Padula of Minnesota. Fisher and Helle discussed the challenges with creating their own lines of wool textile products, while Padula walked producers through the process of establishing a partnership with WeatherWool.
Isak Statt from BKB provided a comprehensive Global Wool update at the Wool Roundtable. Additionally, innovators Albert Wilde of Wilde Valley Farms (specializing in wool fertilizer pellets) and Marie Hoff of Full Circle Wool (introducing wool sponges) shared exciting new product ideas. The event also featured a presentation from Jake Vuillemin of USDA’s Farm Service Agency about the available wool LDP/MAL program that has been used by many growers during the last three years. Mike Conover of Fibershed and Linda Poole with the National Center for Appropriate Technology discussed the Climate Beneficial Fiber Partnership that received a $30 million USDA grant in 2023. Other topics included carbon credits and an overview of the domestic textile industry.
Three new representatives were elected to the ASI Executive Board during the Saturday morning regional caucuses at the convention. Laurie Hubbard (Region I), Anne Crider (Region 3) and Tammy Fisher (Region V) were not eligible for reelection after serving two terms on the executive board. Those open spots were filled by Kevin Melvin of New Jersey, Larry Hopkins of Indiana and Rodney Kott of Texas, respectively. John Noh of Idaho was reelected in Region VII, as were each of ASI’s officer team: Boner as president, Ben Lehfeldt of Montana as vice president and Joe Pozzi of California.
The 2024 ASI Annual Convention offered two industry tours that gave participants the opportunity to see lamb harvesting plants and feedlots up close. The first included stops at the Superior Farms plant in Denver and Harper Feeders in Eaton. Participants on that tour also learned how each facility has used ASI’s Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan to prepare for a possible disease outbreak. The second tour headed to Brush, Colo., to see the industry’s newest lamb plant owned by Colorado Lamb Processors. After a tour of the facility, participants headed to Spence Rule’s nearby feedlot, where they were treated to an outstanding lamb lunch.
Speaking of Superior Farms, convention attendees got an update on a city referendum headed for the 2024 fall ballot that would ban meat processing facilities within the Denver city limits. The Superior Farms facility is the only business that would be affected if the referendum passes.
“They’re coming after the protein industry,” said Superior Farms CEO Rick Stott. “We’re going to take them on, and we’re going to beat them.”
ASI’s board of directors voted to commit significant financial support to those efforts, but the company will need additional dollars to mount an effective campaign between now and November. Producers interested in supporting those efforts should visit StoptheBanProtectJobs.com to learn more.
Look for additional coverage of the ASI Annual Convention in the February issue of the Sheep Industry News. And mark your calendars now to attend the next ASI Annual Convention on Jan. 15-18, 2025, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Australian Market Opens 2024 with Large Volume
This week’s auction featured another substantial offering with 49,905 bales presented to exporters, following closely behind the 50,884 bales offered in the previous sale. Those two weeks have kicked off a sizeable start to 2024 with more than 100,000 bales offered, marking it the largest starting fortnight to a calendar year in four years.
The market struggled to sustain the positive momentum observed in the opening sale. During the course of three selling days this week, the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator registered a 17-cent decline to close at 1,196 Australian cents. The most significant drop in prices occurred on the opening day when there was a 16-cent reduction in the EMI – the largest daily fall in five months.
The Merino fleece sector weighed heavily on the outcome with the Micron Price Guides showing a decrease of as much as 50 cents. Finer microns bore the brunt of the downturn while broader types generally saw reductions in the range of 10 to 20 cents. Despite the EMI showing no movement on Wednesday, a more positive atmosphere prevailed, marked by modest increases in Melbourne and Fremantle.
The Melbourne-only sale on Thursday noted only minor fluctuations and all Micron Price Guides closed within five cents of the previous day’s values. Throughout the week, there was a noticeable emphasis on better-specified wool resulting in reduced demand for less-favorable types, including those with high mid-break types.
Merino skirtings reported mixed results with some of the better types maintaining good support while the lower spec types eased back. Crossbreds demonstrated resilience amid the weakness in the Merino sector, firming by 5 to 10 cents. Merino cardings made very little change, closing the sale on a firm basis.
After a fortnight of large volumes, the upcoming week will see a dip to 41,733 bales rostered over two days.
Click Here for the Australian Wool Report Prices in US Dollars Per Pound.
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 Announces MAP, FMD Funding
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service recently announced it was awarding more than $203 million to nearly 70 agricultural organizations to help expand export markets for American food and agricultural products through the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program.
From FAS’s organization list, the American Sheep Industry Association was awarded $364,717 under MAP and $141,285 under FMD for Fiscal Year 2024 program allocation. You can find the full list of FY24 awardees for MAP and FMD at their respective links.
Stabenow Proposes Crop Insurance & Program Reform
On Wednesday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) circulated a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter which outlined her proposal to strengthen the current farm safety net in the upcoming Farm Bill.
She highlighted five key principles for modernizing the safety net, including targeting active farmers, providing choices and flexibility, timely assistance, expanding program reach and addressing emerging risks for farmers. The chairwoman pointed to crop insurance as being a crucial tool to utilize and improve upon in the upcoming Farm Bill, calling for more and affordable policy options across all commodities.
While she recognized the need to update Title I reference prices, she suggested widespread reform to crop insurance could be a more effective solution to help combat challenges in the farm sector, such as supply chain disruptions and increased input costs, as opposed to the reliance on farm commodity programs during times of difficult market conditions. The letter also reiterated her commitment to a Farm Bill that fosters bipartisan support without taking funds from the nutrition and conservation titles. The link to the full letter can be found here.
Congress Passes Another Stopgap Measure
On Thursday, Congress passed and sent over legislation to avert a partial government shutdown to the president’s desk, where he is expected to sign off before the Friday midnight deadline. The current continuing resolution set up a laddered approach to pass the remaining appropriations bill with two tranches of deadlines.
The Agriculture-FDA, Military Construction-VA, Energy-Water and Transportation-HUD spending bills were set to expire on the first deadline today, while the eight remaining spending bills were set to expire on Feb. 2. This new CR sets up a similar laddered approach with the new tranche of deadlines staggered between March 1 and March 8, with the agriculture spending bill filling into the first deadline.
The stopgap measure had overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, which passed by a 77-18 vote, whereas the House vote passed 314-108 with strenuous opposition from far-right Republicans. This marks the third time since the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2023, that Congress has extended government spending on a temporary basis.
MSU to Study Domestic, Bighorn Sheep Interactions
A research team in the Montana State University College of Agriculture has received $4 million in new funding to help lay the groundwork for disease prevention and management of wild and domestic sheep around the state and region.
Assistant Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist Jared Beaver and MSU Extension Sheep Specialist Brent Roeder – both in MSU’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences – will lead a team in studying how often wild bighorn sheep and domestic sheep interact. The information they collect will help wildlife managers shape approaches for finding adaptive management strategies to allow both species to exist on Montana’s rangeland. It will also build on the body of knowledge to help understand how diseases spread among populations.
The funding – which will support at least five years of research – comes from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which will also collaborate on the project. The work will help FWP implement its adaptive management plan for bighorn sheep, a species that has seen less population recovery than other reintroduced species such as elk. Other collaborators include the Montana Wild Sheep Foundation, Montana Wool Growers Association and numerous Montana sheep producers, Beaver said.
Click Here to read the full story.
Source: Tri-State Livestock News
Indiana Hosting Wool Pellet Webinar
The Indiana Sheep Association is hosting a webinar on Feb. 8 about the practice of turning low-quality or excess sheep’s wool into growth-aiding pellets as a soil amendment for organic crops and gardens. The wool pelleting webinar is sponsored in part by the Indiana Sheep and Wool Market Development Program and will introduce basics about the practice, science, marketing and process of wool pelleting.
The program will begin at 7 p.m. eastern time and feature Anna Hunter, a first-generation sheep farmer and wool mill owner of Long Way Homestead of Canada. Hunter and her family started a small sheep farm with wool breed sheep in 2015. Three years later, she started small-scale wool processing mill.
Click Here to register for the webinar.
Pipestone Plans Lambing Time Short Course
Mark your calendar now and plan to attend the 2024 Pipestone Lamb and Wool Program Lambing Time Short Course and Bus Tour, which will be held on February 2-3 in Pipestone, Minn.
The program starts with Friday evening discussion from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday will begin at 8 a.m. with lambing time management and health topics. The afternoon will be spent touring and viewing two successful sheep operations. The program will conclude by 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Source: Pipestone Lamb and Wool Management Program
NYSE Withdraws Natural Asset Company Amendment
On Wednesday, Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (Wash.) and Senate Western Caucus Chair Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) released the following statements regarding the New York Stock Exchange’s withdrawal of the proposed amendment to the Listed Company Manual to adopt a new listing standard for Natural Asset Companies. The withdrawal followed a letter from Newhouse and Lummis to the Securities and Exchange Commission urging the agency to reject the NYSE’s proposal.
“Today’s news is a huge victory for rural America and our public lands,” said Newhouse. “Listing Natural Asset Companies on the NYSE would have given extreme environmentalists and foreign nationals a tool to lock up our public lands from activities like resource development, grazing, recreation and other uses, upending the multiple-use mandate. I am glad to see the NYSE withdraw the proposed listing, following the letter from myself and Senator Lummis this morning urging the SEC to reject this terrible proposal.”
“The New York Stock Exchange’s decision not to list natural asset companies is a huge victory for Wyoming and dismantles the Biden Administration’s latest land grab attempt,” said Lummis.“For far too long, this administration has openly empowered radical environmental activists to use the full force of the federal government to jeopardize Western industry and threaten the way of life we cherish. The Biden Administration’s effort to weaponize NACs to lock up our public lands, hinder rural economies and limit domestic energy production underscores the urgent need to defend our beautiful landscapes from elite green new deal extremists, and I will continue to unapologetically defend our pioneer values from these blatant greenwashing attempts.”
The American Sheep Industry Association adopted a directive to “explore the implications of Natural Asset Companies as proposed in the notice of filing in proposed rule changes by the Securities and Exchange Commission” during the annual convention last week in Denver.
Source: Congressional Western Caucus
USDA Offers Assistance Programs
Winter storms create significant challenges and often result in catastrophic loss for agricultural producers, especially for those raising livestock, row crops and vulnerable crops like citrus. Despite every attempt to mitigate risk, your operation may suffer losses. As you prepare for the potential impacts of upcoming winter weather, know that USDA offers several programs to help with recovery.
For producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, we want to remind you to report crop damage to your crop insurance agent or the local Farm Service Agency office.
If you have crop insurance, contact your agency within 72 hours of discovering damage and be sure to follow up in writing within 15 days. If you have NAP coverage, file a Notice of Loss (also called Form CCC-576) within 15 days of loss becoming apparent, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.
USDA also offers disaster assistance programs, which are especially important to livestock, fruit and vegetable, specialty and perennial crop producers.
First, the Livestock Indemnity Program and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed and forage. To participate in LIP and ELAP, you will need to file a Notice of Loss by the annual program payment application date. The LIP payment application and notice of loss deadline is Feb. 29, 2024, for the 2023 program year and March 3, 2025, for 2024 program year losses. For ELAP, producers are required to complete and a notice of loss to their local FSA office no later than the annual program application deadline of January 30 following the program year in which the loss occurred.
Next, the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides cost share assistance to rehabilitate and replant tree, vines or shrubs loss experienced by orchards and nurseries. This complements NAP or crop insurance coverage, which covers the crop but not the plants or trees in all cases.
For TAP, you will need to file a program application within 90 days of the disaster event or the date when the loss of the trees, bushes, or vines is apparent.
The Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore fencing, damaged farmland or forests, and remove snow from feed stocks, water supplies, and feeding areas.
Additionally, FSA offers a variety of loans available including emergency loans that are triggered by disaster declarations and operating loans that can assist producers with credit needs. You can use these loans to replace essential property, purchase inputs like livestock, equipment, feed and seed, or refinance farm-related debts, and other needs. Additionally, FSA offers several loan servicing options available for borrowers who are unable to make scheduled payments on their farm loan programs debt to the agency because of reasons beyond their control.
Meanwhile, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provides financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes.
Additional details – including payment calculations – can be found on our NAP, ELAP, LIP, and TAP fact sheets. On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options.
While we never want to have to implement disaster programs, we are here to help. To inquire about available programs, contact your local USDA Service Center.