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June 14 ASI Weekly

Montana Judge Sides With U.S. Sheep Experiment Station

At the end of May, the United States District Court of Montana ruled in favor of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station on a motion for permanent injunction and summary judgement.

Beginning in 2012, the plaintiffs in this case – Cotton Environmental Law Center and others – filed a lawsuit against the sheep station and the Agricultural Research Service seeking a new biological opinion from the agency. Again in 2014, the plaintiffs challenged the new biological opinion they had sought, and the station’s underlying National Environmental Policy Act analysis. This action effectively ceased grazing on the station’s lands in this controversy, as the station agreed not to graze sheep until the completion of the ongoing NEPA. The completion of this NEPA and accompanying Environmental Impact Statement resulted in the plaintiffs seeking an injunction and motion for summary judgement against the station in March 2018.

The basis of the plaintiff’s most recent claims was that sheep grazing was injurious to the grizzly bear population in the area and resulted in an increased likelihood of human-bear conflicts. The plaintiffs asserted that they had new evidence of this increased likelihood of conflict that had not been considered in the environmental documents and demanded a supplemental EIS be prepared. Citing grizzly bear activity in the vicinity of the station’s lands and tangential evidence, the plaintiff’s claimed the preceding final EIS was invalid.

As the judge noted, a supplemental EIS is necessary when there is a substantial change to use relevant to environmental concerns or significant new information presented. The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim, finding that the evidence presented was not new in time, or new in fact.

The information regarding the possibility of human-bear conflicts was adequately considered in the final EIS and therefore a supplemental EIS was not necessary. Evaluating the plaintiff’s claim under the Administrative Procedures Act, an agency action can only be set aside if it was arbitrary and capricious. Through the court’s analysis the evidence supported a rational connection between the facts the agency considered and the decision they made.

Unfortunately, the station has been the target of environmental litigation seeking to remove sheep grazing for far too long. The American Sheep Industry Association and its U.S. Sheep Experiment Station Working Group members are wholly dedicated to defending research at the station for the next century through advocacy in the courts, Congress and the administration.


Australian Wool Market Continues Downward Trend

The Australian wool market recorded further losses in Week 50. The Fremantle region resumed sales after a one-week recess, helping to push the national offering up to 28,140 bales. But with only two weeks remaining on the 2018-19 wool selling program, the national offering has fallen by 220,733 bales – a reduction of 12 percent when compared to the 2017-18 season.

Best-style wools with good additional measurement results attracted strong demand and recorded only minimal losses. The lesser-style wools and those with poor additional measurement results, however, lost buyer support and continued to lose ground. By the end of the series these types were generally selling at levels 50 to 90 cents below the prices achieved in the previous week.

The price reductions resulted in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator losing 41 cents for the series, to close the week at 1,823 Australian cents. After a strong start to the calendar year – where the EMI rose for the first seven weeks, climbing from 1,862 cents to 2,027 cents – the EMI has now fallen for five of the previous six weeks, dropping a total of 113 cents during this period. The EMI is now 293 cents below the record of 2,116 cents it achieved in August of last year and 198 cents lower than the same time last year – a fall of 9.8 percent.

The crossbred sector recorded losses – generally between 20 and 30 cents. The poorly prepared lines were most affected as buyers focused on the better wools. The oddments were also discounted. Most types and descriptions fell by 20 to 30 cents, and this was reflected in the three carding indicators as they fell by an average of 20 cents.

The Fremantle region will have another one-week recess in Week 51. Currently there are 19,745 bales rostered for sale, with selling in Sydney and Melbourne only.

    Source: AWEX


Producer Comments Needed for USDA Study on Payment Protection

When a livestock dealer’s check bounces, should the farmer or rancher who raised the stock be able to get them back? The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to hear from the livestock industry regarding potential changes to priority in livestock dealer default situations. The comment period is open through June 24.

While most people agree producers should be entitled to repossess livestock they sold and have not been paid for, too many sellers have learned the hard way that is not usually allowed under current law. Often times when a dealer fails to pay, that dealer’s bank takes first priority.

In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress directed USDA to conduct a feasibility study on a Dealer Statutory Trust, which has been proposed by members of Congress to improve seller recovery. As a part of the study, USDA is seeking public comments.

A Dealer Trust would give unpaid sellers of livestock first priority to reclaim livestock. If the livestock are resold – to a feedyard for example – the buyer would still take clear title of the livestock as they do today. In this situation, the money the feedyard paid the dealer would be the trust assets held for the unpaid seller.

The American Sheep Industry Association, the Livestock Marketing Association and others support a Dealer Trust and encourage the livestock industry to participate in the USDA comment period. Producers selling through a livestock auction market are paid for their consignments through the market’s federally required custodial account regardless of if the market receives payment from the buyer. When there is a default in these situations, instead of making a small commission for their selling services, the market ends up like the ranchers who sold to the defaulting dealer directly: unpaid for the full price of the stock.

Click Here to learn more.

Click Here to submit a comment to USDA by June 24.

    Source: LMA


ASI Representative Appointed to Animal Trade Committee

Chase Adams of the American Sheep Industry Association has been appointed to the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products.

ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick said the association is pleased its nomination was appointed to continue nearly 20 years of association representation on the committee.

“We look forward to monitoring trade regarding sheep and sheep products and thank Dr. Dennis Stiffler for his service as the ASI representative on the last advisory committee,” Orwick said.

The appointment of more than 100 members to six agricultural trade committees was announced in mid-June by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The two also announced appointments to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee at the same time.

Congress established the advisory committee system in 1974 to ensure that U.S. agricultural trade policy objectives reflect U.S. public- and private-sector commercial and economic interests. USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative jointly manage the committees.

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee provides advice and information to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on the administration of trade policy, including enforcement of existing trade agreements and negotiating objectives for new trade agreements. The Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees offer technical advice and information about specific commodities and products.

The appointees will serve until June 15, 2023, and the committees will be supplemented by additional appointments during the next four years.

    Source: USDA


AWEX Begins On Farm eBale Trials

The Australian Wool Exchange has commenced on farm eBale (unique Bale-ID) trials. Two properties – one in New South Wales and the other in Victoria – were chosen as pilot trial sites.

Each wool pack has a unique identifier (eBale-ID) stored on a combination RFID and QR Code tag placed on the Bale Label.

“The QR code has been chosen for on farm application, as it can be easily read by a smartphone using the AWEX WoolClip App. This means that there is no requirement to have additional technology/hardware on farm. The RFID is best used in higher volume environments (warehouses, carriers, dumps etc.) where fixed and mobile scanners would be utilized,” said AWEX CEO Mark Grave.

Each unique Bale-ID is linked to the contents of each bale of wool and captured (on farm) using the WoolClip App. The data is released to the marketing organization (broker) when the classer’s specification is complete.

“The purpose of the eBale trial is to test, track and assess the progress of each uniquely identified bale of wool through the supply chain,” said Grave. “Traceability, provenance and product integrity are major drivers in Australian agriculture today along with increased efficiencies in logistics. The level of interest in the potential application of eBale extends through the entire wool supply chain.

“In this first phase, we will carefully monitor the performance of the eBale tag, how it is used and its potential application at each location. Initially, the eBale trial will focus on Western Australia, but AWEX has received strong inquiry from stakeholders in the Eastern States. If growers, brokers, buyers and/or processors are interested in participating in the trial, contact your Broker or contact AWEX direct on 02 9428 6100.”

This phase of the eBale trial consists of 10,000 tags containing a combination RFID/QR Code. The tags will be applied and captured on farm at the time of shearing. The trial will include a range of climates, wool types and clip sizes.

One tag is applied to each wool pack and the unique bale-ID is captured and added to the bale details, via the WoolClip App when adding bales to the Wool Book. The unique Bale-ID will be read at various stages in the supply chain.

AWEX staff will be on hand at the start of shearing to provide training to shed staff including the classer, presser, contractor and grower on how to how to successfully participate in the eBale trial. AWEX’s WoolClip support services will be available to follow up with participants as each clip progresses through the system.

At the conclusion of the trial, an independent cost benefit analysis will be completed.

    Source: AWEX

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