Image of sheep


ASI Wraps Up Annual Convention in San Diego

As it turns out, that rollercoaster ride American wool and sheep producers have been on the past couple of years was actually a Pacific Ocean wave that carried the American Sheep Industry Association into San Diego on Jan. 19-22 for its 157th Annual Convention: Where There’s A Will, There’s A Wave.

The convention theme was a nod to both the location and ASI’s desire to again meet in person after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the association to host a virtual meeting in 2021. Resiliency peppered conversations in San Diego after a COVID-induced wave took its best shot at sinking the industry only to then carry it to record-high lamb prices and steady increases for wool. The American sheep industry proved its buoyancy and sustainability in the process, turning an eye toward the role it can play in slowing (and even reducing) climate change in the years to come.

The well-orchestrated chorus condemning American animal agriculture for its role in global warming is deceptive, according to air quality extension specialist Frank Mitloehner of the University of California-Davis, aka, the Greenhouse Gas Guru. Rather than being the problem, animal agriculture is part of a climate solution.

Those who do not like animal agriculture use the global statistics of greenhouse gas emissions to attack animal agriculture in the United States, Mitloehner said, but production here is vastly different than that in developing countries. Greenhouse gas emissions from animal ag ring in at 3.9 percent in the United States, compared to the global rate of 14.5 percent. For comparison, transportation makes up 28 percent, electricity generation 27 percent and industry 22 percent of GHG emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Emissions from ruminants such as domestic sheep emit methane – a potent greenhouse gas that has a half-life of about 12 years. After that, the methane is broken down and converted back to carbon dioxide, and plants can again photosynthesize and fix the carbon back into cellulose. Grasses and other plants that are high in cellulose are then grazed by ruminants that digest the carbon and continue the biogenic carbon cycle.

But geologic carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels linger in the atmosphere for about 1,000 years before being redeposited back into geologic matter. So, emissions from driving a car today will remain in the atmosphere, warming the climate, while emissions from animals are short-lived and recycled back into the environment within about 12 years. Animal agriculture in the United States has reduced its emissions continually during the last 50 to 70 years, primarily through efficiency measures and feed additives, while continuing to feed an ever-growing human population.

“It’s nothing short of a miracle,” Mitloehner said, noting that forestry and animal agriculture are the major societal sectors that can actually pull carbon from the air and store it – making these industries part of the climate solution, rather than major culprits.

In other news from the convention, sheep producers and industry volunteers elected and re-elected members to the ASI Executive Board during the meeting. John Noh of Idaho was chosen to fill the Region VII spot previously held by Montana’s Randy Tunby – who was not eligible for re-election. Three other regional representatives were re-elected to second terms on the board. They included Laurie Hubbard (Penn.) of Region I, Anne Crider (Ill.) of Region II and Tammy Fisher (Texas) of Region V.

Click Here to read the full convention press release.

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


Changes Announced for Lamb Checkoff Collections

While the American Lamb Checkoff rate is not changing, how the mandatory assessments are collected for animals sold through “market agencies” is changing. The change applies to animals sold through auctions, including sale barns, video/online sales, and sales at shows and fairs.

These auctions will now collect both live weight assessments and per head (first handler) assessments as of Jan. 21. However, the delayed enforcement date for submitting these assessments is March 22. This allows time for auctions to adjust their systems without a penalty for late payments. If a producer or feeder sells animals to a first handler and has already paid the checkoff at an auction, a refund will be issued. To receive a refund, documentation will be required from the time of sale.

The national lamb checkoff – directed by the American Lamb Board – is funded by mandatory assessments (checkoff) paid by all segments of the sheep industry. By federal law, all sheep or lambs of any age – including ewes, rams, feeder and market lambs, breeding stock and cull animals – are subject to the national lamb checkoff assessment at the time of every sale. The mandatory American Lamb Checkoff assessment rates do not change. The live weight assessment is .007 cents per pound and the first handler assessment is 42 cents per head.

“It’s important to remember that the sheep industry passed the mandatory American Lamb Checkoff so it would be equitable and beneficial for both those owning the lambs prior to slaughter and those who harvest the meat. That’s why there are both live weight and per head assessments. And, these collections are only from U.S.-born animals, allowing funds to specifically promote American lamb. This does not change,” said ALB Chairman Peter Camino of Buffalo, Wyo.

The changes had to go through a vigorous U.S. Department of Agriculture process. The federal register announcement is here.

To fully understand the value of these changes, a refresher about this particular checkoff helps. When the mandatory American Lamb Checkoff was enacted in 2002, most lambs were marketed through traditional channels. The lamb industry has evolved considerably in the past 20 years, particularly the growth of non-traditional markets. For example, direct sales to consumers, ethnic and farmers markets, and butcher shops now participate to a larger degree in the purchasing and processing of lamb and lamb products.

The 2002 Lamb Promotion, Research and Information Order mandates that live weight assessments be collected from producers or feeders and be forwarded to the next purchaser, if applicable. At the end of the process, the first handler (usually the processor) or exporter is responsible for submitting all live weight and per head assessments to the ALB. This is known as a pass-through method, with the bulk of collections made at the end of the process.

ALB listened to industry input, and it became clear that changes to the collection process were necessary. To maintain a fair and efficient mandatory American Lamb Checkoff for the entire industry and to reduce the burden on those collecting it, assessments need to be collected at the time of sale instead of the original pass-through method.

More information on how the mandatory American Lamb Checkoff works and how to pay or request refunds is at The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service website on the lamb program is also a good resource.

Source: ALB


ALB Elects New Leadership

The American Lamb Board elected Fiscal Year 2022 leadership at its meeting on Jan. 19 at the American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention. The newly elected chair is Peter Camino (Wyo.). Vice chair is Jeff Ebert (Kan.). Sally Scholle (Penn.) will serve as secretary and treasurer is Don Hawk (Ohio).

The additional board members are: Andrew Allman (Colo.), Travis Anderson (Ore.), Carlos Barba (Ill.), Mike Duff (Idaho), David Fisher (Texas), Dave McEwen (Mont.), Jimmy Parker (Ala.), Stephen Schreier (Minn.) and Gary Visintainer (Colo.).

The board represents all sectors of the American lamb industry, including producers, feeders, seedstock producers and processors. The 13-member board – appointed by the secretary of agriculture – serves without compensation. Members are nominated by qualified organizations, including ASI and the National Lamb Feeders Association.

ALB conducts promotion and research programs with the goal of creating greater demand and profitability for the entire industry. ALB does not promote imported lamb. It does not promote wool. ALB is not funded by dues and is forbidden by law to influence legislation. It exists to promote lamb to consumers and provide information to help producers raise lamb more efficiently and effectively.

The American Lamb Board is an industry-funded national research, promotion and information checkoff program that works on behalf of all American producers, feeders, seedstock producers, direct marketers and processors to build awareness and demand for American lamb. One of its long-term goals is to collaborate and communicate with industry partners and stakeholders to expand efforts to grow, promote, improve and support American lamb.

Source: ALB


USDA/ARS Produces Sheep Trails newsletter

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center have released the latest version of their Sheep Trails newsletter.

The newsletter includes updates on several research projects, as well as information on how USMARC is collaborating with other research stations – including the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station and the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center – to expand its reference flock initiative

Click Here to read the newsletter.

Source: USDA/ARS


Grazing Loss Assistance Applications Due Monday

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds ranchers and livestock producers that they may be eligible for financial assistance through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program for 2021 grazing losses due to a qualifying drought or fire. The deadline to apply for 2021 LFP assistance is Monday, Jan. 31.

“Ongoing, widespread drought conditions have resulted in significant financial losses for agricultural producers, causing stress across rural America,” said Zach Ducheneaux, Farm Service Agency administrator. “I want to emphasize that the FSA is here to help offset these economic hardships and help producers rebuild with resilience. I’d like to encourage producers who suffered 2021 grazing losses to file their LFP applications as soon as possible to expedite payments. Timely filing is doubly important this year, as information gathered may be used to deliver upcoming disaster assistance.”

For the 2021 program year, 901 counties in 26 states and territories have met drought severity levels that trigger LFP eligibility. More than $473.1 million has been paid, to date, to livestock producers eligible for 2021 LFP. For LFP, qualifying drought triggers are determined using the U.S. Drought Monitor. Visit the FSA LFP webpage for a list of eligible counties and grazing crops.

Click Here to read the full press release.

Source: USDA/FSA


Livestock Conservancy Awards Microgrants

The Livestock Conservancy recently awarded more than $22,000 to 12 rare breed farmers, ranchers, shepherds and breed organizations across the country through its Microgrants Program. Now in its fourth year, the grants put funding into the hands of the group’s most important conservation partners – the people doing the hard work day after day to steward these genetic treasures for the security of tomorrow’s food and fiber sources.

“Small financial awards can make a big difference for heritage breeders,” said Livestock Conservancy Executive Director Dr. Alison Martin. “These strategic investments were selected as excellent examples of livestock conservation in action across the United States by our panel of judges.”

New in 2021 are microgrants from Premier 1 Supplies and for heritage breed associations, clubs and registries. The Premier 1 Supplies Microgrant will provide funding for fencing and related needs for projects benefiting heritage breeds listed on the Conservation Priority List.

“Premier 1 and its customers have long valued raising livestock and poultry,” said Premier 1 Supplies CEO Ben Rothe. “We also know how hard it is to get started. That’s why we’ve partnered with The Livestock Conservancy to encourage and help future farmers to conserve traditional breeds and promote biodiversity on our farms via microgrants.”

Microgrants were awarded to three sheep operations:

  • Amanda and Alberto Barcenas flock of 100 sheep – including Lincoln and Romeldale/CVM breeds – are managed through rotational grazing at Prado de Lana farm in Massachusetts. The Barcenas family plans to improve grazing opportunities with electro-net fencing that will make it easier to move the sheep from pasture to pasture, grazing on nutritious forage while remaining parasite free.
  • The American Cotswold Records Association plans to improve communication and education, and to link owners of ACRA Cotswold sheep with those interested in the breed. The association will use grant funds to revise the website and to publish a Flock Book that includes members, their stock and Cotswold-specific information. This will help Cotswold fans and breeders to find breeding stock and other important genetic information.
  • Eliseo Curley and Drake Mace received hay and feed courtesy of Standlee Western Forage to help their critically endangered flocks of Navajo-Churro sheep through severe drought in New Mexico.

The competitive microgrant program was launched in 2018 and has now awarded more than $78,311 to small farmers and heritage breed stewards. Grant divisions now include National, Youth, Emergency, Breed Association, and sponsored grants such as this year’s Premier 1 Supplies Microgrant.

Click Here to learn more.

Source: The Livestock Conservancy


Australian Wool Continues to Rise

The Australian wool market defied expectations and recorded solid overall price increases this week. The national offering remained large with 42,794 bales available to the trade. Some buyers expressed concerns about the large quantity, but these concerns turned out to be unwarranted.

There were numerous anecdotal reports form exporters that large amounts of business had been done during the week, particularly in China in the lead up to Chinese New Year. These sales resulted in a noticeable increase to buyer sentiment, which had the effect of pushing prices higher.

Good style Merino fleece types attracted the strongest demand and enjoyed solid gains for the series. This was reflected in the individual Micron Price Guides across the country for 21 micron and finer, which added between 6 and 50 cents for the series. The only exception was the 19.5 MPG in the North, which fell by 5 cents. These increases – combined with overall positive movements in the other sectors – helped push the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator up by 15 cents for the series. The EMI closed the week at 1,407 Australian cents.

Due to a weaking of the Australian dollar compared to the U.S. dollar – the AUD lost 1.56 cents compared to the previous week – when viewed in USD terms, the EMI lost ground. The EMI lost 11 U.S. cents for the series, closing at 995 U.S. cents. The crossbred recorded rises this week, generally between 5 and 15 cents.

Next week sees another to change to the normal sale day schedule, sales will be held on Wednesday and Thursday due to a recent decision to not hold sales on Chinese New Year Day (Feb. 1). The national offering is of a similar quantity to this week as 41,790 bales are currently expected to be offered in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.

Source: AWEX


Skip to content