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Convention Registration Deadline Pushed to Jan. 22

Mountains of Opportunity await at the 2021 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention, but sheep producers won’t have to leave the comfort of their own farms or ranches to attend the first-ever virtual convention on Jan. 28-29. Attendees are encouraged to register by the Jan. 22 deadline as late registration may not be available this year due to the unusual circumstances of the virtual convention.

Attend council and committee meetings, vote for ASI officers and set policy that will guide the American Sheep Industry for years to come simply by registering and logging in for this historic online convention.

While we’ll miss the opportunity to see America’s sheep producers face-to-face in January, a virtual meeting was a necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us online as we give the latest presentations on sheep industry topics, new lamb companies, the American wool testing laboratory and as we conduct the essential business of governing the association.

Click Here to register for the ASI Annual Convention.


RAMS PAC Auction Continues Despite Virtual Convention

The annual RAMS PAC (political action committee) auction is always a fun and important function of every American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention. While this year, the industry will not be able to gather in person, the ASI Executive Board hopes producers will still set aside some time to look over the silent auction items and join them online via Zoom for the live auction on Thursday, Jan. 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. mountain standard time.

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.

Last year’s RAMS PAC auction was a record breaker with great items donated by ASI members, state affiliates and industry partners. This year might look a little different, but ASI has secured an online auction platform and will be bringing back Tanner Beymer for another exciting, albeit virtual, live video auction.

Bidding on the silent auction items is open now through 7 p.m. mountain standard time on Jan. 28. ASI is still accepting donated items. Please contact the ASI office if you’d like to donate an item to this year’s auction.

Click Here to view the live and silent auction items.


USDA Sets MAL Loan Rates for 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation announced this week the new 2021 wool grade loan rates by micron and class.

The American Sheep Industry Association worked closely with USDA in the past year to revisit rates for the Marketing Assistance Loan and the Loan Deficiency Payment programs, and greatly appreciates USDA’s efforts to improve the programs. Both the MAL and LDP needed adjustments to more closely reflect actual current values and respond to market changes.

“We appreciate USDA and its agencies for their efforts to support America’s wool producers with these two programs,” said ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson. “USDA has made a concerted effort to study these programs and their rates in the past year, and we believe producers will benefit more than ever from these programs.”

As of this week, there is a 40-cent LDP available on ungraded wool. Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office BEFORE their flock’s wool or pelts are harvested to make plans for the coming year and fill out the necessary paperwork to take advantage of these programs.

Click Here for more information.


AWC Awards Four Wool Press Grants

The American Sheep Industry Association’s American Wool Council announced this week the awarding of four $5,000 grants to go toward the build or purchase of new wool presses.

The AWC had budgeted funds for two grants in the third round of the program, but decided to award grants to each of the four applications that were submitted. Those selected for grants in 2021 include: Jacob Beastrom of Pierre, S.D.; the Tennessee Sheep Producers Association; Helle Livestock of Dillon, Mont.; and Patty Kelly of Faith, S.D.

The wool press grant program is designed to bring new presses into the American wool industry for a variety of reasons. These American-built presses lower costs for producers and the shearing crews they work with while also producing a wool bale that is designed to meet oversees shipping standards.


Producers Receive Livestock Conservancy Microgrants

The Livestock Conservancy recently awarded more than $22,300 to 17 farmers, ranchers and shepherds raising endangered breeds of livestock and poultry across the country. Now in its third year, the Microgrants Program puts funding into the hands of conservation partners – the people doing the hard work to steward these genetic treasures for the security of tomorrow’s food and fiber systems.

“Small financial awards can make a big difference for heritage breeders,” said Livestock Conservancy Executive Director Dr. Alison Martin. “These strategic investments were selected by our panel of judges as excellent examples of livestock conservation in action across the United States. We’re especially pleased that the majority of 2020 grant recipients are raising breeds found only in North America.”

Among the recipients are two sheep producers:

  • Crystal Criswell plans to install a handling system with a gathering pen, sorting gates and weighing scale next to her barn. Handling and evaluating individual animals will help improve the health and productivity of her St. Croix sheep flock in Ohio.
  • Janna Miller plans to build a shearing shed for her Navajo-Churro sheep in New Mexico. She recently joined the Livestock Conservancy’s Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Initiative and is excited to start marketing her fleeces and improving her breeding stock.

The competitive Microgrant Program was launched in 2018 as part of Next Generation Farming: Northeastern Heritage Livestock. It has since expanded nationwide, with youth grants added to encourage future breeders of heritage livestock. Emergency Response microgrants were added in 2020 to help genetically important flocks and herds impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other farming challenges.

Click Here to learn more about the microgrants.


Basic Lambing Skills Webinar Set for Jan. 20

Prepare for the upcoming lamb crop by learning about ewe and lamb care before, during and after parturition, during a University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Small Ruminant webinar on Jan. 20 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. central standard time.

The session will be led by Todd Taylor, University of Wisconsin Sheep Research Program Manager of the Arlington Agricultural Research Station Sheep Unit. He will discuss lambing supplies, lambing management, and ewe and lamb care.

The Small Ruminant webinar series, part of extension’s Farm Ready Research series, provides a new spin on the long-standing and popular sheep production video conferencing series that connected sheep and goat producers around the state.

There is no charge to participate in the sessions, but pre-registration is required to allow access to the session. The Farm Ready Research webinar website is your place to find all information about UW-Madison Extension Agriculture programs.


New Katahdin Group Focuses on EBVs

The Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins is a newly formed group of Katahdin producers with an interest and passion for raising production-oriented Katahdin sheep. The group is serious about using estimated breeding values through the National Sheep Improvement Program for quantitative genetic selection to breed hard-working sheep that fit their environment and are profitable for the shepherd.

EAPK had its beginnings when several Katahdin producers realized that they needed more in-depth learning than either Katahdin Hair Sheep International or NSIP were able to provide. After tossing the idea around for a while, they decided to form a “regional” KHSI group focused around a management style rather than a geographic region. With the blessing of both KHSI and NSIP, EAPK plans to function as a liaison between both groups.

Click Here for more information.

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