Editor’s Note: There will be no ASI Weekly next week due to the ASI Convention. The newsletter will return on Feb. 5.
ASI Convention Set for Next Week
The first-ever virtual American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention is on tap for next week, beginning at 9 a.m. mountain standard time on Thursday, Jan. 28. Council and committee meetings will continue on Friday, Jan. 29, before the ASI Board of Directors meeting that afternoon.
Emails have gone out to registered convention attendees with directions on how to join the Zoom session on the two days of the convention. Those emails from Zahrah Khan in the ASI office might have gone into your junk or spam folders, so if you haven’t seen any information, please check there.
The Annual Convention Book – complete with information on meeting schedules, agendas for each council and committee, industry partners and more – is available online this year as a pdf. Due to the virtual nature of the meeting, hard copies of the book are not available.
Click Here for the convention book.
RAMS PAC Live Auction Open for Early Bidding
Today, in addition to being able to bid on the silent auction items on the RAMS PAC Auction, you can place early bids on the live auction items. With more than 45 items from apparel and furniture to art and one-of-a-kind gifts, there is something for everyone in this year’s RAMS PAC Auction.
Highlights of the live auction include: a Rambouillet ram skull covered in Pendleton Chief Joseph wheat fabric; two Epic passes for the 2021-22 ski season; beautiful, framed artwork; stays and trips; Flock 54 tests; furniture; and many more items. Don’t miss the opportunity to get your bids in early for these great items.
The RAMS PAC auction remains a highlight of the American Sheep Industry Association’s Annual Convention, and this year is no different. The “live” auction will take place via Zoom on Thursday, Jan. 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. mountain standard time. You’ll be able to watch the action live on Zoom and bid at the auction link. The silent auction is also up now and will remain open through 1 p.m. mountain standard time on Friday, Jan. 29.
RAMS PAC funds are used exclusively to support congressional candidates and incumbents in their elections. Ensuring that people who understand the sheep industry and the importance of agriculture are elected and able to hold their seats in the U.S. House or Senate is critically important to the future of our industry. While RAMS PAC accepts donations throughout the year, the auction is the primary fundraiser for this worthy cause.
Click Here for the auction.
Farm to Feet Enters Tactical Market
Farm to Feet – makers of 100 percent American socks – has launched a new Merino wool sock collection specifically designed for the needs of the tactical and law enforcement market. All Farm to Feet socks are Berry Amendment compliant with all materials used in the socks sourced in the United States, including the Merino wool.
The American Sheep Industry Association hosted a military tour of wool mills in the Southeast in 2017 that introduced representatives from Farm to Feet to key garment developers and purchasers within the U.S. military. Various wool styles for new sock lines were discussed at that time.
The Farm to Feet Tactical Collection includes three extended crew length boot socks made with American Merino wool: the heavyweight Kodiak, lightweight Coronado, and lightweight Fayetteville. The Fayetteville also is available in one-quarter crew and low-cut heights, ideal for physical training. Lastly, the Jericho completes the collection as a technically designed cold weather heavyweight over-the-calf sock.
As with all Farm to Feet socks, the names of the socks are derived from locations tied to the brand or its partners. For its Tactical Collection, Farm to Feet pays homage to the locations of iconic military bases that support the men and women of the U.S. armed services: the Naval Special Warfare Cold Weather Detachment in Kodiak, Alaska; the U.S. Navy Seals School at Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, Calif.; U.S. Army Special Operations Command in Fayetteville, N.C.; and the Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vt.
Click Here to learn more about Farm to Feet.
ALB Offers Ethnic Marketing Materials
Special events, such as ethnic holidays, are an important marketing time for American lamb. To assist direct marketers and other industry members in planning for these events, the American Lamb Board offers a Holiday Calendar handout for 2021 through 2023.
Listings on the ALB calendar include ethnic holidays such as: Festive of the Nativity (Christian Orthodox Christmas), Pesch (Jewish Passover), Western Easter (Roman), Ramadan (Muslim Month of Fasting), Eastern Orthodox Easter (Greek), Muharramm/Hajra (Islamic New Year) and Chanukkah (Jewish Festival of Lights). The calendar is available in a PDF for easy printing and sharing.
Click Here to download the calendar.
In addition to the calendar, ALB has developed non-traditional marketing tools designed to help educate suppliers, retailers and food distributors about the importance of the U.S. Muslim and Hispanic communities as growing markets. Reaching these markets can help increase American lamb awareness, consumption and sales. ALB also partnered with Michigan State University to develop a profit calculator which producers can use to assess non-traditional market opportunities.
Click Here for more information.
USDA, FDA Finalize MOU on Animal Biotechnology
On Jan. 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the finalization of a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration outlining responsibilities concerning the regulation of certain animals developed using genetic engineering that are intended for agricultural purposes (such as human food, fiber and labor). This MOU complements USDA’s issuance of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Movement of Animals Modified or Developed by Genetic Engineering on Dec. 28, 2020.
Agricultural biotechnology holds tremendous potential to improve animal health, enhance farm productivity, improve nutrition and even reduce the need for some animal health measures. USDA and FDA have a long history of delineating the review of products with overlapping jurisdictional authority between the two agencies to promote regulatory clarity and reduce duplicative review. USDA and FDA are committed to working together to foster safe use of this promising technology and encourage innovation.
The terms of the MOU support USDA’s ANPR outlining a contemplated regulatory framework that would apply to certain animals (cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses, mules, or other equines, catfish and poultry) developed using genetic engineering intended for agricultural purposes. Under this framework, USDA would safeguard animal and human health by providing end-to-end oversight from pre-market reviews through post-market food safety monitoring for certain farm animals modified or developed using genetic engineering that are intended for human food.
The MOU also allows for the transition of portions of FDA’s pre-existing animal biotechnology regulatory oversight to USDA. USDA would continue to coordinate closely with FDA to fulfill oversight responsibilities and provide the appropriate regulatory environment, ensuring the safety of products derived from new technologies and fostering innovation at the same time. As always, FDA would continue its review of intentional genomic alterations intended for any purpose other than agricultural use, such as biopharma and non-heritable genomic alteration, and the regulation of dairy products, table and shell eggs, certain meat products, and animal food (feed) derived from animals developed using genetic engineering.
Australian Market Continues Positive Trend
The Australian wool market continued to track upward, with almost all types and descriptions recording rises this week. The national offering fell by 8,036 bales to 44,254 bales. This smaller overall selection attracted strong competition, generally pushing prices higher as the sale progressed.
Main buyer focus continued to concentrate in the finer microns, resulting in the individual Micron Price Guides for 18.5 micron and finer adding between 23 and 156 cents for the series. As Melbourne was the only center in operation on the final selling day (Thursday), the largest gains were recorded in the South. Microns ranging from 19.5 to 21.0 did not enjoy the same buyer support, so much so that losses of between 3 and 24 cents were experienced in Sydney and Fremantle. Only a strong final day rally in Melbourne prevented these types falling in the South.
As the finer microns continue to rise at a greater pace than the broads, the price differential between microns continues to widen. This is best displayed when looking at the difference between the 16.5- and 21.0-micron MPGs in the South. This week, that difference stretched to 1,055 cents, compared to 906 cents in the previous sale and compared to 499 cents in the first sale of the current season (in July last year).
The merino skirtings followed a very similar path to the fleece as the strongest demand was in wools finer than 18.0 micron, pushing prices for these types generally up by 40 to 80 cents for the series. The oddments recorded large rises for the second consecutive series. Buyer sentiment was very high, spirited bidding helped to push prices for locks, stains and crutchings up by between 30 and 70 cents. This was reflected in the three Merino Carding Indicators, which rose by an average of 41 cents.
Next week’s national offering reduces slightly to 43,118 bales.
USDA Announces Key Appointments
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a flurry of senior appointments in the first week of the Biden Administration, ranging from senior staff in the secretary’s office to deputy under secretaries in areas ranging from nutrition to rural development to marketing and regulatory programs.
Among the appointments are:
- Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services;
- Justin Maxson, deputy under secretary for rural development;
- Mae Wu, deputy under secretary for marketing and rural programs;
- David Grahn, principal deputy general counsel;
- Farah Ahmad, chief of staff for the under secretary for rural development;
- Olugbenga Ajilore, senior advisor to the under secretary for rural development;
- Mike Schmidt, senior advisor to the under secretary for farm production and conservation;
- Marcus Graham, deputy administrator for field operations in the Farm Service Agency;
- Matt Herrick, director of communications in the office of communications;
- Katharine Ferguson, chief of staff in the secretary’s office;
- Robert Bonnie, deputy chief of staff for policy and senior advisor for climate in the secretary’s office;
- Sarah Bleich, senior advisor for COVID-19 in the secretary’s office;
- Kumar Chandran; senior advisor for nutrition in the secretary’s office;
- Gregory Parham, interim deputy assistant secretary for administration;
- Justo Robles, White House liaison in the secretary’s office.
- PRODUCER EDUCATION