Bentley Selected for Sheep Heritage Scholarship
Sheep Heritage Foundation Memorial Scholarship Winner Kelsey Bentley had only minimal involvement with sheep before arriving at West Virginia University in the summer of 2019. But her research in parasite resistance in Katahdins in the past four years pushed her application to the top of a crowded, qualified field of scholarship applicants.
“I was shocked, coming from the East Coast,” Bentley said of her reaction to winning the $3,000 scholarship. “Looking at some of the past winners, I wasn’t sure how I would do. But the Katahdins are becoming more popular both in the East and a little bit out West. I really appreciate this scholarship and hope to put the money to good use as I finish up my research in the next year.”
After finishing her bachelor’s degree at North Carolina State University, Bentley was lured to West Virginia to be the livestock judging coach as she pursued a master’s degree – which she finished in June of 2021. She’s now in the final year of a Ph.D. program at the school.
Overseen by the American Sheep Industry Association, the Sheep Heritage Foundation is a charitable foundation dedicated to enhancing the value of the sheep industry in the United States. It was established to create programs and projects that will assure opportunities for the future of the American sheep industry. This annual scholarship program is the main focus of the foundation.
In addition to winning the SHF Memorial Scholarship, Bentley was selected as a Ruby Fellow at West Virginia University for the 2021-22 academic year and as a recipient of a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Research Grant in 2022.
Bentley hopes to obtain a research and teaching faculty position with a university in or near her home state of North Carolina.
“Growing up with my only involvement in sheep as a club lamb girl, when I first got to West Virginia and saw the Katahdins, I was like, ‘What are these critters?’ Bentley said. “But they’ve grown on me. I think the industry is moving toward flocks that either have the highest-quality wool or no wool at all, and for a lot of producers Katahdins might be the answer. I’m a little partial to them now because all my research is centered around them. But I think there’s potential to implement that research within other breeds, as well.”
Click Here to learn more about the Sheep Heritage Foundation.
Read the full story on Bentley in the July issue of the Sheep Industry News.
Wool Council Concludes Summer Meeting
Pendleton Woolen Mills played host to the American Sheep Industry Association’s Wool Council this week in Washougal, Wash., providing the council with a tour of its manufacturing facility in addition to making company executives available for a panel discussion and question and answer session.
The Wool Council meets in person each summer to hear updates on the domestic and international wool industry, as well as to set a recommended Wool Trust budget that will then go to the ASI Executive Board and full Board of Directors for approval in the months to come. The council provided input and direction on various projects and industry review for consideration.
“We had a fantastic meeting with signs of optimism, and good discussions. It was a great opportunity to visit Pendleton and meet with company leaders about the challenges they face in manufacturing wool products,” said American Wool Council Co-Chair Anne Crider of Illinois. “It was a productive meeting that provided valuable information to council members. We were all impressed by the extensive equipment investment Pendleton has made in recent years.”
The Wool Council heard updates from, Chargeurs, Groenewold Wool & Fur, and Fibershed on its Climate Beneficial Grant, as well as on domestic wool production programs – including ASI’s American Wool Assurance Program. Updates also included discussion of military programs as the U.S. military is the largest domestic user of American wool. One common problem in all wool-producing countries right now is a significant stockpile of inventory.
ASI Applauds Support for Checkoffs
The American Sheep Industry Association welcomed news this week that Rep. Barry Moore (Ala.) is introducing a resolution in support of checkoff funds, such as the American Lamb Board.
“Checkoff programs have made significant, measurable strides in raising the level of demand and awareness for our farmers, ranchers and foresters’ products,” said Moore. “This resolution expresses congressional support for checkoffs due to the research, education and promotion efforts they have provided to our producers.”
The resolution highlights each of the 22 authorized research and promotion boards, including ALB.
“Whereas the American Lamb Board returns $14.20 for every $1 invested,” the resolution states. “Whereas the American Lamb Board is partnering with Michigan and Colorado State Universities to invest significant resources into sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction as well as mechanization of quality evaluation in lamb processing systems.”
The American sheep industry voted twice in nationwide referendums to implement and continue the American Lamb Checkoff.
“The approval was resounding in each referendum and successful on both the individual sheep producer count and volume of lamb production count,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “This alone is testament that our industry supports the lamb checkoff system as we designed it to fit our business. Sheep producers, lamb feeders and lamb packing companies all pay the promotion checkoff and all three segments have a say in the direction of the American lamb programs.”
ASI is joined by a host of agricultural associations in supporting the resolution.
Australian Market Soars Into Recess
The Australian wool market recorded another overall increase this series, posting a positive result for the second week in a row. As the market is about to head into the mid-year recess, this was the final chance to sell wool until Week 7.
There were 43,697 bales on offer nationally – 7,538 bales more than the previous week. The total amount offered during the first two weeks of this season is now well below the same time last year. There have been 79,856 bales offered, which is 24,414 less than the previous season – a reduction of 23.3 percent.
As this was also the last opportunity to buy through auction until August, buyer sentiment was high, which in turn translated to spirited bidding across all sectors of the market. This resulted in price increases across most sectors, but particularly in Merino fleece types.
Most of the market gains were felt on the first day. The individual Micron Price Guides across the country for 17.5 micron and coarser fleece added between 3 and 54 cents for the day, while 20 micron and coarser enjoyed the largest gains. The crossbred sector also had solid rises, particularly 26 and 28 micron in the South – which added 28 and 21 cents, respectively. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator rose by 17 cents for the day.
The second day was varied across regions, microns and types. The movements in the Merino fleece MPGs ranged between minus 24 and plus 18 cents as the EMI remained unchanged. This is the best start to a new season since 2020, when the EMI rose by 24 cents during the opening two sales. It is a marked improvement on the previous year, when the EMI dropped 42 cents in the opening two weeks.
The market now heads into the annual three-week, mid-year recess. Sales will resume in the week beginning Aug. 7.
Click Here for for Australian Wool Report Prices in USc Per Pound.
USDA Announces Funding for Sheep Industry
The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced $300,000 in available grant funding through the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program to strengthen and enhance the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States. Grant applications are currently being accepted through Sept. 15.
“Projects funded by the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program have already made measurable impacts on our nation’s sheep industry,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “From increasing processing capacity in areas experiencing bottlenecks in production to expanding critical research on pathogens affecting sheep flocks, projects such as these will ultimately increase the availability and consumption of sheep products across the country.”
In 2019, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service awarded a five-year grant for $1.9 million to the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center. Each year, the center subawards approximately $300,000 to projects that develop solutions for practical problems and address the needs of the entire sheep industry, while focusing on the measurable benefits for sheep producers, encouraging partnerships among other sheep industry organizations and reducing duplication of effort among participating organizations.
Additional information is available on the AMS Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program webpage. Applications must be submitted directly to NSIIC and will be reviewed by its board of directors via a competitive process. The board will then make funding recommendations to AMS for approval.
Click Here for more information.
Livestock Auction Dashboard Brings Data to Life
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a new data visualization tool – the Livestock Auction Dashboard – providing users the ability to view and access livestock auction market information in a manner that is simple to use and understand.
Market information for cattle, sheep and goats will be available in a variety of visual formats in the new dashboard. For example, filters can be applied to allow users to see information from different markets and commodities throughout different timeframes. In addition to current reports, users can easily compare and analyze five years of historical data.
The dashboard includes data already published through the MyMarketNews platform; however, it offers the new benefits of dynamic visualization and easier analysis. For example, dashboard users will have the ability to filter data by properties, including date, state, market type, report title, and Slug ID (a four-digit number unique to each report) allowing information displayed to be customized to individual needs.
If you have questions about the new dashboard, please contact Michael Sheats, director of the Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division at 202-690-3145 or Michael.Sheats@usda.gov.
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.
House Appropriations Releases EPA Bill
On Wednesday, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee released the text of its Fiscal Year 2024 spending bill for the Department of Interior and Environmental Protection Association. The bill would provide a total of $6.173 billion in funding to EPA – a $3.96 billion decrease from the FY2023 enacted level. It also included a provision prohibiting EPA from enacting its rule regulating waters of the United States. The bill was marked up and favorably approved by the Interior and Environment Subcommittee late Thursday afternoon. It will now go to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration. The Senate has yet to release its version of the bill.
Torres-Small Confirmed as USDA Deputy Secretary
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted on an 84-8 vote to confirm Xochitl Torres-Small to be Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This role – the second highest in the department – has been vacant since Jewel Bronaugh resigned in late January citing family reasons.
Torres-Small most recently served as USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development. Prior to this role, she served New Mexico’s second congressional district in the House of Representatives and was a former member of the House Agriculture Committee. Throughout the nomination process, Torres-Small received bipartisan support from members of the agriculture community.
House Ways and Means Holds Hearing on Ag and Trade
On Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee held a field hearing in Kimball, Minn., to learn how agricultural producers are impacted by trade policy. The hearing touched on agricultural labor challenges, enforcing trade agreements, Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program funding, and how to help keep American producers competitive in the global market.
Click Here for a recording of the hearing.
AgWest Offers Grants to New Producers
AgWest Farm Credit – a cooperative lending association focused exclusively on financing the agricultural industry – recently announced a new grant program that provides start-up funds to individuals just beginning their agricultural businesses.
Through this program, successful applicants will receive a one-time $15,000 grant to support their operation’s growth. This program was designed for motivated producers who have a vision for their new business and a sound plan, yet lack the funds to put their plans into action.
The deadline to apply for this program is Aug. 31. Applications may be submitted online at AgWestFC.com/new-producer-grant. To apply, individuals must prepare a business plan, cash flow budget and a one-page essay that describes how they will use the funds to achieve their operational goals. Questions regarding this process and eligibility can be sent to AgVision@AgWestFC.com.
Source: AgWest Farm Credit