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Sheep Center Accepting Grant Proposals

The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center announced this week that it is accepting grant proposals through Sept. 15. The grants must be designed to improve the American sheep industry.

The sheep center has budgeted about $300,000 to support projects consistent with the grant program. The average grant amount in the last four years has been about $29,000. Financial assistance provided by the sheep center must accomplish one or more of the following objectives:

  1. Strengthen and enhance the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States through the improvement of infrastructure, business, resource development and the development of innovative approaches to solve long term problems.
  2. Provide leadership training and education to industry stakeholders.
  3. Enhance sheep and sheep products in the United States through assistance to all segments of the industry to address sustainable production and marketing of sheep and sheep products.
  4. Promote marketing of sheep and sheep products through an organized method that can measure tangible results.
  5. Enhance the sheep industry by coordinating information exchange and by seeking mutual understanding and marketing within the industry.

The sheep center will review each proposal, recommend funding and submit final recommendations to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for approval. The center was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and was awarded funding by AMS to be used for the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

For more information on applying for a grant, contact Program Manager Steve Lee at (207) 236-6567 or, or send mail to National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, 1578 Spring Water Way, Highlands Ranch, CO 80129.

Click Here for more information.


Bipartisan Bill Would Allow Meat Sales Across State Lines

U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson (S.D.) and Henry Cuellar (Texas) introduced the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions Act this week. The legislation will allow state inspected meat to be sold across state lines through e-commerce, allowing small producers and processors more options to directly market to consumers.

“As a result of COVID-19, meat processing plants across the country have been forced to close or slow operations, and as a result we’ve seen a renaissance in small processors,” said Johnson. “Many states, including South Dakota, have inspection standards that are at least equal to what the federal government requires. This bill cuts through red tape and allows producers, processors and retailers to sell state-inspected meat and poultry direct to consumers through online stores across state lines.”

“America’s meat industry has been hit hard by financial challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Cuellar. “The bipartisan legislation will open up new markets for meat producers and processors by allowing meat inspected by the state to be sold online and across state lines. As a senior member of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Appropriations, I will continue to fight for the men and women who work every day to keep food on our table during these unprecedented times. I want to thank Congressman Dusty Johnson for his commitment to supporting our meat industry.”

The DIRECT Act will:

  • Amend the retail exemption under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and Poultry Products Inspection Act to allow processors, butchers or other retailers to sell normal retail quantities (300 lbs. of beef, 100 lbs. of pork, 27.5 lbs. of lamb) of State Inspected Meat online to consumers across state lines.
  • Allow new direct-to-consumer options for producers, processors and small meat markets.
  • Maintain traceability of sales easily accessed in the event of a recall.
  • Allow retail sales to consumers, minimizing the risk for further processing in export, keeping equivalency agreements with trading partners intact.
  • Allow states operating under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping system to ship and label as they are currently.

This bill is supported by the American Sheep Industry Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, SD Pork Producers Council and South Dakota Farm Bureau.

“This is a step in the right direction, and it offers American lamb producers throughout the country new markets and methods to add value to their operations,” said ASI President Benny Cox of Texas. “The American sheep industry thanks Reps. Johnson and Cuellar for their efforts to open new marketing avenues for American lamb.”


ASI Photo Contest Deadline is Aug. 3

Mark your calendars now, as the deadline for the 2020 ASI Photo Contest is Aug. 3. All entries must be submitted by 5 p.m. mountain time on that date. The top three finishers in each category will receive a cash prize and be featured in the October issue of the Sheep Industry News.

ASI made a change in adding a working dog category in 2019 and it was well received. This year, the association would like to invite those with other protection animals (llamas, donkeys, etc.) to submit photos in that category, as well.

Otherwise, rules and prizes for the 2020 contest are the same as last year. Photographs entered in the contest will be judged on clarity, content, composition and appeal. More than $1,000 will be awarded, with awards of $125 going to the first-place photographer in each of the five categories; $75 for the runner-up in each category; and a $50 prize for third place in each of the five categories. Again, entries must be received in the ASI office by 5 p.m. mountain time on Monday, Aug. 3, to be considered. Only the top three photographers in each category will be notified of their winnings.

Click Here for complete contest rules.


RAMP-UP Act to Assist Meat Processors

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) and former Chairman Frank Lucas (Okla.), joined Reps. Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Chellie Pingree (Maine), G.T. Thompson (Penn.), Jim Costa (Calif.), David Rouzer (N.C.), Angie Craig (Minn.) and Robert Aderholt (Ala.), today to introduce the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processors for Upgrading Plants (RAMP-UP) Act.

This legislation would establish a program to make facility upgrade and planning grants to existing meat and poultry processors to help them move to federal inspection and be able to sell their products across state lines. The legislation will also require USDA to work with states and report on ways to improve the existing Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.

The RAMP-UP Act has the added support of a broad range of livestock, farm and agricultural associations, including the American Sheep Industry Association.

“For America’s sheep producers, finding new markets and meeting demand for lamb is critical to our ability to thrive in a quickly changing environment,” said ASI President Benny Cox. “Chairman Peterson and Rep. Lucas’s legislation is tremendously welcome to help break down barriers for smaller processors to compete nationwide. These grants will ensure our local establishments can meet our stringent food safety inspection system requirements and open a world of opportunity for sheep producers.”

“We have seen the importance of having meat and poultry processors of all sizes in Minnesota and across the country over the past few months,” said Peterson. “The RAMP-UP Act will provide grants to help these rural small businesses meet that demand, wherever their customers live.”

“Right now, America’s meat producers and processors are facing unprecedented market challenges. At a time when producers are experiencing increased demand for high-quality meat, meat processors across the United States are racing to increase their capacity to meet the demands of consumers and producers,” said Rep. Lucas. “The RAMP-UP Act gives processors the tools to become federally inspected facilities, which widens their customer base while maintaining strong inspection standards. I’m proud to join my friend and Agriculture Committee Chairman, Congressman Collin Peterson, in expanding the opportunities for not only Oklahoma’s processing facilities but meat processors across the United States.”

“I am pleased to help lead the RAMP-UP Act, an exciting bill that helps smaller meat processors upgrade their plants and ship product interstate,” said Rep. Fortenberry. “This is a localized solution that helps diversify the meatpacking industry to create a public good.”

“Disruptions to meat processing this spring showed that our current system needs greater flexibility. I am an original cosponsor of this legislation because increased competition and capacity in the meat processing sector is good for farmers and the American consumer,” said Rep. Aderholt. “The RAMP-UP Act will help address the current backlog of livestock and build a stronger industry for the future.”


USDA Adds Digital Options for Farmers

USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced recently that it will now accept applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program through an online portal, expanding the options available to producers to apply for a program which helps offset price declines and additional marketing costs because of the coronavirus pandemic. FSA is also leveraging commercial document storage and e-signature solutions to enable producers to work with local service center staff to complete their applications from home.

Through the portal, producers with secure USDA login credentials – known as eAuthentication – can certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center. Producers who do not have an eAuthentication account can learn more and begin the enrollment process at Currently, the digital application is only available to sole proprietors or single-member business entities.

USDA Service Centers can also work with producers to complete and securely transmit digitally signed applications through two commercially available tools: Box and OneSpan. Producers who are interested in digitally signing their applications should notify their local service centers when calling to discuss the CFAP application process. You can learn more about these solutions at

USDA has several other options for producers to complete and submit their CFAP applications. These include:

  1. Downloading the AD-3114 application form from and manually completing the form to submit to the local USDA Service Center by mail, electronically or by hand delivery to an office drop box. In some limited cases, the office may be open for in-person business by appointment. Visit to check the status of your local office.
  2. Completing the application form using our CFAP Application Generator and Payment Calculator found at This Excel workbook allows customers to input information specific to their operation to determine estimated payments and populate the application form, which can be printed, and then signed and submitted to their local USDA Service Center.

For more information, call 877-508-8364 or visit

Source: USDA


Dairy Sheep Symposium Moving Online

The Dairy Sheep Association of North America announced recently that its annual symposium will move online. The yearly meeting of dairy sheep producers was originally scheduled to take place in South Carolina, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other ideas.

So, the DSANA volunteer board will be organizing an online series of presentations that will serve as this year’s symposium. While details are still being finalized, organizers expect the online conference to be conducted at its usual time in early November.

Click Here for more information.


Business Leaders Call for PPP Tax Deduction

A diverse coalition of business trade associations sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House this week calling for small businesses to be able to deduct eligible expenses paid with a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loan from their taxes. The American Sheep Industry Association was a member of that coalition.

“When Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the PPP was designed to help small businesses survive major liquidity shortfalls, retain employees and withstand an unprecedented economic disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Internal Revenue Service’s Notice 2020-32 undermines the PPP and creates a severe challenge for small businesses by stating that normally deductible business expenses will not be deductible if the business pays the expense with a PPP loan that is subsequently forgiven.

“The Small Business Expense Protection Act will fix this misinterpretation and reestablish the ability of small businesses that have received PPP loans to deduct business expenses as the CARES Act intends. We thank congressional leaders for their ongoing efforts and urge swift passage of this bipartisan legislation.”


ASI Joins Coalition Urging Increased Funding for Ag Inspections

The American Sheep Industry Association joined a coalition of agriculture and livestock organizations in writing to the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Committees this week in favor of providing adequate funding for Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Quarantine Inspection at the nation’s international ports of entry.

“Agriculture inspection of international passengers and cargo is carried out by CBP’s Agriculture Specialists, Technicians and Canine Teams. These CBP personnel are ordinarily funded by AQI user fees, collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and transferred to CBP to cover salaries and expenses of the inspectors. The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused a precipitous downturn in international travel and lowered cargo imports. International air travel alone has fallen by nearly 98 percent. Maritime shipping is down nationally by double-digit percentages year-on-year, with drops in volume varying from seaport to seaport. And virtually all seaport passenger travel has halted, with the 2020 tourism season virtually eliminated.

“This unprecedented decline has resulted in such dramatically reduced AQI user fee collections that even the APHIS’ user fee reserve fund will be depleted by the end of Fiscal Year 2020. With user fee collections not expected to rebound for the foreseeable future, the shortfall in funding for AQI at the ports of entry through the end FY 2021 is estimated to be $630 million.

“We urge Congress to ensure that the essential work of CBP agriculture inspectors continues uninterrupted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We depend on AQI to ensure that America’s agriculture sector remains safe from foreign animal and plant pests and diseases. It is inconceivable that Congress would risk widespread damage to U.S. agriculture and the overall economy by not funding these inspections.”


 Australian Wool Market Starts New Season with Higher Prices

This week marked the beginning of the 2020-21 wool selling season. In welcome news to all industry participants, the market started the new season on a positive note. Strong buyer sentiment pushed merino fleece prices higher.

The individual Micron Price Guides across the country rose by 3 to 27 cents. The only exceptions were the 16.5- and 17.0-micron MPGs in the north, which lost 6 cents, and the 20.0- and 21.0-micron MPGs in the south, which recorded no change. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator gained 6 cents for the series, to close the first selling week at 1,116 cents.

Due to currency movement, the rise in the EMI in U.S. dollar terms was only 2 cents. Many sellers take this opportunity to sell in the new financial year and most sellers in this sale were keen to accept the prices on offer. This was reflected in the national passed in rate, which was only 5.1 percent. This was well below the yearly average of the previous season of 17.0 percent, which was the highest figure since AWEX records began. Worth noting, the national fleece passed in rate was just more than 2 percent.

The skirting market followed a similar path to the fleece, prices generally increased by 20 to 30 cents. Wool carrying less than 3 percent vegetable matter was most affected. The cardings were the only sector to record overall losses for the series. General losses in locks, stains and crutchings of 10 to 20 cents, pushed the three carding indicators down by an average of 14 cents.

Next week is the final sale before the annual three-week July recess. Sales revert to Tuesday and Wednesday selling. There are currently 36,712 bales available to the trade. Due to the small quantity on offer, Fremantle only requires a one-day sale, selling Wednesday. Melbourne and Sydney are in operation both days.

Source: AWEX


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