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Call to Action: Senate COVID-19 Package

As the country – and agriculture specifically – continues to grapple with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new U.S. Senate relief package is beginning to take shape. Preliminary reports indicate that the Senate might have agreement on a $1 trillion package, which would include $20 billion to the United States Department of Agriculture for direct relief to farmers and ranchers.

ASI successfully worked to include lambs and wool in the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and is continuing to work with the department to secure the inclusion of cull and replacement ewes. ASI, the National Lamb Feeders Association and ASI’s state affiliates also sent a letter to U.S. House and Senate leadership in late June reiterating a request for future relief.

These next few days are a good time to share that letter again and remind your representatives and senators of the impact the pandemic has had on the industry, as well as the need for future relief.

Click Here for the letter to share with your congressional delegation.


ASI Board to Vote on 2020-21 Budgets, Dues Rates

Members of the American Sheep Industry Association’s board of directors received an email earlier this week with information needed to vote on association budgets and membership dues rates.

Board members are asked to vote on both the American Wool Trust budget and the ASI Fund II budget for legislative and membership activities of the association. The Fund II budget covers all non-Wool Trust activities.

“The COVID crisis we anticipate will impact the FY21 activities, so we have planned on less travel expense and revised targets for the annual board of directors meeting in January of 2021.  Ultimately, there is no playbook for addressing the pandemic, so we maintain most budget items with hope we get to implement those along with our state association affiliates grant programs,” read a letter with voting instructions for all board members.

All association dues rates remained the same as the current year. The dues assessment rate for 2021 for state associations is 3.5 cents per stock sheep and $8 per member. The dues rate for associate members is $400, and the dues rate for individual members remained at 3.5 cents per stock sheep or $50, whichever is greater.


ASI Supports USDA Purchase of Lamb Racks

The American Sheep Industry Association submitted a letter of support this month for adding racks to the Federal Purchase Program Specification for lamb products.

“The current FPPS for lamb products includes frozen lamb roasts, chops and shanks. In amending the FFPS to include frozen racks, all the major lamb commodity products domestically produced and processed will be included and eligible for purchases made by the USDA/AMS Commodity Procurement Program, particularly for Section 32 purchases,” wrote ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

“The American sheep industry has benefited from Section 32 food purchases in the past when the industry has experienced an oversupply of lamb products due to changes in economic and market conditions. The current marketing environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a surplus of lamb, particularly frozen racks. This proposal to include frozen racks to the FPPS for lamb products will help to address the current surplus and losses experienced by the lamb industry.”


ASI Research Update Podcast: Vaccination Programs

In the latest edition of the ASI Research Update podcast, Dr. Rosie Busch of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine discusses vaccination programs.

Click Here to listen to the podcast.


Let’s Grow Webinar: Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan

Danelle Bickett-Weddle, associate director of Iowa State University’s Center for Food Security and Public Health, will lead a webinar entitled Protecting the Flock from Highly Contagious Diseases – Resources in the Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan on Aug. 4 at 8 p.m. eastern time.

The online webinar is the latest in a series of free webinars sponsored by the Let’s Grow Program of the American Sheep Industry Association. As always, Dr. Jay Parsons of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will serve as the webinar host.

The most highly contagious disease of livestock is foot and mouth disease, and it remains a threat in almost 100 countries around the world. Sheep are referred to as the “silent shedders” among livestock species susceptible to this devastating animal disease. Preparedness and response planning for FMD has taken center stage in recent years. Learn about this disease, how the United States plans to respond should it be diagnosed in North America, and ASI’s Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan for continuity of business resources available to protect the flock.

Click Here to register for the webinar.


RAMP-UP Act Would Expand Markets for Small Meatpackers

U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (Kan.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) on Thursday introduced the Requiring Assistance to Meat Processers for Upgrading Plants Act. This legislation would provide grants to meat processors to make improvements necessary to become federally inspected.

Currently, meatpacking facilities can only make sales across state lines if they are federally inspected. Facilities that are state inspected can only sell their products within the state they are located, and custom-exempt processors can only process livestock for the exclusive use of the livestock owner. This legislation would provide grants to meatpacking plants for planning activities, facility upgrades and other necessary improvements to meet the standards necessary for federal inspections, increasing their market opportunities and encouraging interstate commerce.

“The importance of meatpacking facilities in Kansas has been especially clear during this pandemic as they work to meet a growing, nationwide demand for quality meat,” said Sen. Moran. “The RAMP-UP Act provides small packers with the tools they need to meet federal standards in order to expand their customer base. By increasing small packer capacity and production, this legislation will strengthen the food supply chain for consumers and give cattle producers in Kansas more options to market their livestock.”

“Our rural economies have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “This legislation is a critical step in helping our small, local meat processors access new markets and reach a wider customer base by selling their products in different states. It will also provide consumers with more choices and farmers with more flexibility when marketing their livestock. Especially in this time of crisis, we must work to support a strong and competitive agricultural supply chain for both producers and consumers.”

Sen. Moran recently introduced the Small Packer Overtime and Holiday Fee Relief COVID-19 Act that would support small, federally-inspected meatpacking plants that are operating longer hours during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the supply chain moving.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Rep. Frank Lucas (Okla.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Tina Smith (Minn.) and James Lankford (Okla.)

Source: Sen. Jerry Moran


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.


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