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Nebraska Student Awarded Sheep Heritage Scholarship

The Sheep Heritage Foundation – a division of the American Sheep Industry Association – has awarded its 2021 scholarship to Brian Arisman of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The $3,000 award will be used to support his master’s degree work in animal breeding and genetics.

Originally from Delaware, Arisman earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and medical biotechnology from the University of Kentucky in May of 2020. He was accepted into the graduate program at UNL’s Department of Animal Sciences in January of 2020. Arisman previously served as the Miller Animal Science Intern at the University of Missouri, as a student researcher at Kentucky and as an undergraduate research scholar at the University of Delaware before taking on a research assistantship position at UNL.

While he’s worked on research projects involving a variety of species, Arisman’s current research looks at gastrointestinal nematode parasites in sheep. Infection with GIN parasites can result in weight loss, decreased appetite and even death.

“In my current study, genetic resistance and resilience to GIN infection will be delineated using fecal egg counts and FAMACHA scores,” he wrote in his scholarship application. “Resistance is the ability of the host animal to exert control over the parasite, while resilience is the productivity of an animal in the face of infection. Phenotypic and genetic (genomic) relationships among FEC, FAMACHA scores and body weights will be estimated, and used to identify resilient and resistant individuals.

“Additionally, tolerance to GIN infection – which is the change in performance with respect to changes in pathogen load – will be considered. At least initially, tolerance will be evaluated at a sire level by regressing mean body weights on mean FEC or FAMACHA scores of offspring with different pathogen burdens; the slope will define genetic sensitivities to pathogenesis. Beyond pathogen load alone, sensitivities to a broader set of environmental challenges also will be explored. Flocks will be clustered into ecoregions defined by climatic variables. That clustering will be complemented by a producer survey to identify differences in management practices across flocks related to parasite exposure-levels.

“The outcome of this research will be genetic and genomic tools to more reliably select sheep to cope with GIN infection across varying environmental and management conditions.”

ASI congratulates Arisman on being selected for this industry-supported scholarship. Look for more on this year’s winner in the September issue of ASI’s Sheep Industry News.


Input Needed on Targeted Grazing Survey

The American Sheep Industry Association is writing a second volume of the Targeted Grazing Handbook that was first published in 2006. The purpose of this volume is to provide practical information to individuals considering the use of targeted grazing either in their personal operation or as a service to others. In addition, it will help all targeted grazing providers with information on the efficacy and use of targeted grazing to market the use of livestock as a scientifically proven land management option.

Please share the link to this survey with targeted graziers that were not on our mailing list. Unless you choose to provide contact information, this survey is confidential and not associated with the name of the respondent. Thank you for taking time to assist in this project by completing the survey.

Click Here for the survey.


Demand for American Lamb Continues to Rise

Consumer demand for lamb increased considerably during 2020. While all meat sales grew in 2020 – as more meals were consumed at home – lamb sales grew at a larger percentage than total meat sales overall.

That’s the word from the latest U.S. Retail Sales Report commissioned by the American Lamb Board. The 2021 Q1 report assesses the American lamb market by comparing four-week, 12-week, and 52-week intervals to one year prior. Last year saw a 24.7 percent increase in lamb dollar sales from 2019 and a 17.7 percent increase in pounds sold from 2019. Sales of racks exploded in Q3 and Q4 of 2020. Compared to 2019, rack sales increased 52.8 percent in terms of pounds sold. Sales of ground lamb also saw considerable growth – a 23.7 percent increase in volume sales.

As a region, California has seen the most growth since 2019 in terms of both dollar sales (30.6 percent increase) and pounds sold (29.6 percent increase). Nonetheless, the Northeast remains the highest selling region by a significant margin – accounting for 29 percent of all lamb sales in the United States.

Lamb retail sales remained strong into the first quarter of 2021. Sales of lamb in Q1 outperformed the same 12 weeks a year ago by a sizable margin: dollar sales increased 19.8 percent and volume sales increased 11.8 percent. Rack sales grew significantly during Q1 (no holidays), increasing by 53.8 percent in volume sales. All cuts of lamb – other than loin chops – saw double-digit growth in dollar sales during Q1 versus a year ago. Loin chops saw only a 5.4-percent increase and its market share of total sales dropped from 31 percent a year ago to 27 percent in 2021.

“The report clearly reflects that as consumers gained kitchen confidence during COVID, their willingness to try new products and new recipes increased,” said American Lamb Board Chairman Gwen Kitzan. “Cooking and sharing meals with loved ones has become a form of entertainment for many consumers and many people will continue to prepare more meals at home even as restaurants open up. We will continue to focus on educating new lamb consumers by sharing simple recipes, information about nutritional benefits, ease of preparation, versatility of cuts and cooking techniques, and how American lamb is raised.”

For copies of the Sales Data Report or Retail Demand Index Report for Lamb, contact Rae Villa at


Suffolk Association Plans Flock 54 Webinar

The United Suffolk Sheep Association is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, July 27, at 7 p.m., entitled Flock Forward: Utilizing Flock54 and the camera grading system to measure carcass performance traits. This webinar will cover several topics, including validating sire performance, understanding yield and OCC, and Flock54 flock certification.

This webinar is free and open to the public

Click Here to register via Zoom or watch live on the USSA Facebook Page.


Comment Period Open on Meat Processing Infrastructure

On July 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will commit $500 million of USDA’s Build Back Better Initiative funds through the American Rescue Plan to support new competitive entrants in meat and poultry processing.

USDA will provide grants, loans and technical assistance to address concentration within the meat and poultry sectors and relieve supply chain bottlenecks by supporting new meat and poultry processing facilities.

USDA has issued a Request for Information to solicit public input into its strategy to improve meat and poultry processing infrastructure, and the RFI is now available on

Click Here to submit comments through Aug. 30.

Source: USDA


Rep. Westerman Introduces Resilient Federal Forests Act

This week, Congressional Western Caucus Vice Chair and Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Bruce Westerman (Ark.) introduced the Resilient Federal Forests Act with the support of Chairman Dan Newhouse (Wash.) and Western Caucus members from rural communities across the country. This comprehensive land management legislation aims to restore healthy federal lands and forests throughout the United States to increase resiliency and prevent catastrophic wildfires.

“Already this year, over a million acres have burned across the West. In my home state of Washington, more acres have burned to date than in all of 2020,” said Newhouse. “We no longer have time for conversations about how we can prevent these catastrophic wildfires – we must act. We know that wildfire prevention goes hand-in-hand with restoring healthy and resilient federal forests, and I’m proud to cosponsor Ranking Member Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act because this is the action we need.”

“Record-breaking wildfires in the West repeatedly highlight the need for proactive, scientific forest management. Decades of mismanagement have led to insect infestation, hazardous fuel buildup and dead and decaying trees, creating tinderboxes for the smallest stray spark to ignite a raging inferno,” said Westerman. “It’s time for Congress to stop sitting on our hands and actually allow the Forest Service to use proven, scientific methods when managing our forests so that we can prevent these fires from occurring in the first place.”

More than 85 organizations – including the American Sheep Industry Association – have expressed support for the legislation.

“ASI strongly supports the Resilient Federal Forests Act and thanks Ranking Member Westerman for his leadership on this issue,” said ASI President Susan Shultz. “We are especially pleased that this legislation recognizes the role targeted livestock grazing has on reducing noxious weeds and hazardous fuel management. We know that targeted grazing supports overall range health and for decades the sheep industry and our members have provided this service, often without federal recognition of the myriad benefits. Additionally, by addressing obstructionist and frivolous lawsuits, this legislation paves the way for our nation’s forests to once again be managed for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, not through litigation as has too often been the case.”

Click Here for more information on the legislation.


ASI Supports Bonnie Nomination to USDA

The American Sheep Industry Association joined the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council this week in supporting the nomination of Robert Bonnie to serve as under secretary for farm production and conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Mr. Bonnie’s experience at USDA will serve both the agency and America’s agricultural producers as he leads implementation of conservation, insurance and risk management programs,” read the letter to Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. John Boozman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture. “In his previous roles as under secretary for Natural Resources and Environment and senior advisor for the Environment and Climate, Mr. Bonnie laid a foundation from which farm programs will grow and evolve during the Biden Administration. As USDA sets its sights on increasing access to farm programs, Mr. Bonnie’s in-depth knowledge and commitment to the agency’s mission will be exceedingly valuable.

“America’s farmers and ranchers rely on clean air and water for the health of their livestock, families and communities. Often, assistance and resources provided through USDA conservation programs are necessary to ensure that farms remain both environmentally and economically sustainable. The success of these programs hinges on clear guidelines for compliance and accessibility to all producers. Clear rules are key to ensuring that farmers across the country can continue producing the world’s safest food supply. Additionally, access to technical assistance and funding ensures that farmers are maximizing profit while minimizing environmental impact.”


Coalition Calls for Domestic Procurement of PPE

The American Sheep Industry Association joined nearly two dozen trade and textile organizations in a letter to leaders of the U.S. House this week to support domestic procurement of personal protective equipment in any legislation addressing American competitiveness.

“We note that the Senate included a strong procurement provision in that chamber’s recently passed S.1260 – the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act – and encourage the House to likewise prioritize this critical policy goal,” read the letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Section 4153 of the USICA – which is largely based on the bipartisan Make PPE in America Act (S.1306) introduced earlier this year by Sens. Peters and Portman – would ensure broad government coverage for domestic PPE procurement by extending rules for PPE procurement substantially similar to the Berry Amendment to the federal government’s largest buyers of these products, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs.

“As your chamber develops companion legislation to respond to the legacy of manufacturing and technology offshoring to China, provisions like Section 4153 in USICA are vital to reduce U.S. dependency on China for essential medical supplies. Additionally, we also highly recommend robust bipartisan House legislation that can be adopted to accomplish this goal, namely the American PPE Supply Chain Integrity Act (H.R. 1466) from Rep. McHenry and Rep. Pascrell, and the Homeland Procurement Reform Act (H.R. 2915) from Rep. Correa and Rep. Mast.

“Despite PPE shortages and supply chain disruptions, American workers stepped in to fill an enormous void. As a result of its sweat and ingenuity, U.S. manufacturing produced over a billion critical PPE items such as face masks, isolation gowns and testing kit swabs for health care and frontline workers, as  well as the American people. In doing so, these manufacturers planted the seeds of a budding re-shoring  and near-shoring effort. For the first time in years, America makes PPE again.

“For this trend to take hold, however, the emergent U.S. PPE industry needs the purchasing certainty that  only long-term government contracts can provide. Many American companies who retooled their production out of a patriotic sense of duty are now staring down bankruptcy while manufacturing workers face the threat of layoffs.  Despite all the efforts that have been taken to re-establish domestic PPE production since the start of the pandemic, there is no doubt that without policy reforms China will permanently secure the PPE market share that the United States is beginning to regain.”


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