ASI Opposes USCIS Fee Increases
The American Sheep Industry Association filed comments this week on increases proposed by the Department of Homeland Security for fees charged by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
“ASI strongly opposes the fee increase of 137 percent from $460 to $1,090 on named 1-129 applications and for unnamed petitions, an increase of 15 percent from $460 to $530. We understand the proposal does not account for the additional $600 asylum petition which explodes the increased costs by 267 percent and 146 percent, respectively,” said ASI President Brad Boner in comments to USCIS and DHS.
“The sustainability of America’s ranches to afford the wage, food and housing expenses as well as fees to employ H-2A workers is in danger. Loss of the workers due to excessive cost will result in the dispersal of the sheep on ranches and the corresponding loss of lamb and wool production.
“Prices for lambs at the ranch gate have been seriously depressed for nearly a year. Many of the sheep producers employing H-2A sheepherders were unable to receive bids for their lambs or had to sell their lambs at prices that were more than 50 percent lower than offered in 2021. The costs of feed, fuel and supplies continue to be at record highs while severe drought conditions have limited forage availability. Returns to sheep and wool producers are not sufficient to cover production expenses. The proposed USCIS fees will no doubt further stress the ability of sheep operations to continue and impact the sustainability of the American sheep and wool industry.”
Click Here for more information and to submit comments. Comments are due by Monday.
Do’s and Don’ts of Paint Brands
The American Sheep Industry Association would like to remind all wool producers that paint brands should be used minimally, as the paint often doesn’t scour out of the wool during commercial processing.
ASI Wool Productions Program Manager Heather Pearce said that even a small amount of paint can bleed during scouring, causing an entire lot to be rescoured. Paint that doesn’t come out during the scouring process will limit how the wool is used and have a negative effect on price for the wool producer.
“Even scourable branding fluid does not always scour out, so be sure to limit your use of paint,” she said. “The less paint applied, the more likely it is to scour out and the less issues it will cause.”
Do’s of Paint Branding Sheep
- Use only approved scourable paint.
- Prepare and apply paint as directed by the manufacturer.
- Use an application tool that is less than 4 mm (~1/8 inch) wide.
- Use only one brand per sheep.
- Apply paint sparingly, using only enough to make the brand legible. Let excess paint drip off the iron before applying.
Don’ts of Paint Branding Sheep
- Do not let paint freeze.
- Do not apply paint before shearing.
- Do not mix or dilute paint with other paints or thinners.
Western States Request FSA Assistance
Leaders of four Western state departments of agriculture joined forces recently to request assistance for livestock producers dealing with crippling winter weather in 2023.
Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming wrote to Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux hoping to “partner again to relieve an increasing problem this winter in the West.”
“This winter has been particularly hard for livestock producers in the Western United States. The winter season started early and we have heard reports from producers that they were forced to commence much higher levels of supplemental feed and will need to sustain these operations for a longer period than at any time in recent memory. Feed resources have been limited and expensive as well, compounding the problem and resulting in significant increases in cost. Most have had to pay much more for supplemental feed and have had to purchase more of that feed just to sustain livestock. Many herds have been trucked out of traditional winter grazing areas, but access by truck due to drifting snow is hampering efforts to reach and remove remaining livestock. Mortality has been high thus far and is expected to increase well into the spring as a result of this exceptionally harsh winter. Animal performance will be severely hampered this year at the very least.
“The persistence of snow has created severe difficulties for our producers. As you may be aware, this winter has been much colder and windier than usual. We simply have not seen snow melt between events and plant resources remain buried even with high winds. Many producers have been forced to truck livestock closer to their respective home places to even maintain contact. As you are well aware, this is not feasible for all operators and for many herds, home is the range. Snow removal has become a critical operation to keep animals alive. Access to traditional winter grazing resources has become dire as well. A large portion of grazing lands in the West are administered by BLM. To give you a sense of the complexity of the situation, there is a prohibition of supplemental feeding on BLM grazing allotments combined with an inability to utilize mechanized snow removal operations.
“In short, Administrator Ducheneaux, we are asking for any flexibility and innovative ideas from the FSA perspective that could expand eligibility and use of emergency programs to provide relief. Assistance with supplemental feed/water and locations to move livestock for grazing/feeding are needed urgently. Another priority is snow removal assistance and transportation expenses, including any options for offsetting fuel costs.”
Colorado Wool Growers Executive Director Bonnie Brown-Eddy said her state FSA director is scheduled to meet with Colorado Department of Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenberg and several sheep producers next week to discuss the issues.
Large Sales Continue in Australian Market
The Australian wool market negotiated another large offering without recording any large overall market fluctuations. The national offering was 47,915 bales – the fifth consecutive sale above 47,000 bales. The total amount offered this season continues to track above the last. Compared to the corresponding sale of the previous season, there have been 20,929 more bales offered – an increase of 1.7 percent.
In the Merino fleece sector, main buyer focus continued to concentrate on better-style wool, wool carrying less than 1.5 percent vegetable matter and wool possessing favorable additional measurement results. The strong demand for these types resulted in minimal price movements throughout the week.
Lesser-style, higher-vegetable matter lots and wool with less favorable additional measurement results were highly irregular and trended lower as the series progressed. These wools were the impetus behind the lowering of many of the individual Micron Price Guides and accounted for much of the 13 percent of wool that was passed in.
The movements in the MPGs across the regions ranged between +20 and -46 cents. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator movements for the three days were -4, -6 and 0. The EMI closed the week 10 cents lower at 1,358 Australian cents.
Currency continues to play a large role in determining market movements. If it wasn’t for the weakening of the Australian dollar – the AUD lost 1.56 cents compared to the USD since the close of last week – the falls in the market would have been more substantial. This is highlighted when viewing the EMI in USD terms. The EMI fell by 28 U.S. cents for the series – a reduction of 3 percent.
Next week all centers will be selling on Wednesday/Thursday only, due to a public holiday in Melbourne on Monday. For the same reason, Melbourne is restricted to two days.
Click Here for the Full Australian Wool Market Report.
South Dakota Plans Online Sale & Junior Futurity
The South Dakota Sheep Growers Association announced recently that producers are invited to consign to the inaugural SDSGA Online Ewe Lamb Sale and Junior Futurity Show. The sale date is May 8 and the sale will be hosted on the Integrity Livestock Sales (www.integritylivestocksales.com) online platform.
This sale is intended to encourage junior participation in the sheep industry and provide a conduit between SDSGA members who raise purebred sheep and tomorrow’s sheep producers. The sale is sponsored by SDSGA and will be a multibreed ewe lamb sale featuring breeds raised by association members. Ewe lambs sold through this sale and purchased by a junior – 21 and under – are eligible for a Junior Futurity program that starts with purchase and showing of the ewe lamb in shows across the United States, then extends into the next year when the ewe is a yearling (Yearling Futurity), and eventually as a producing member of the junior’s flock.
The association encourages SDSGA members who raise purebred registered sheep to participate and become involved with this unique program. Guidelines for the Online Sale and Ewe Lamb Futurity Show are outlined at sdsheepgrowers.org – subject to amendment as suggested and needed. This is an all-breed Junior Futurity Program and it is an all-breed sale.
You must be a SDSGA member to be eligible to consign to this sale. If you already conduct an online sale, participate in an online sale hosted by someone else or sell animals in a bonded live auction sale, then you can also nominate those ewe lambs for the SDSGA Junior Futurity Program by designating them as entered for this program, paying the nomination fee to SDSGA and complying with the rules. Sheep must be nominated prior to the sale.
The association needs preliminary commitment of ewe lamb entries by March 15. A preliminary number of entries are needed in order to move forward with the online sale and futurity program.
Contact the following people to provide input and preliminary consignments:
- Scott Kilber, firstname.lastname@example.org; 605-380-5262
- Michael Bishop, email@example.com; 608-345-1822
- Lisa Surber, firstname.lastname@example.org; 406-581-7772
ALB Influencer Education Visits California
The American Lamb Board works with food influencers, food media, journalists and chefs to educate beyond cooking and lamb cuts. The most recent installment of influencer education took place in Napa, Calif., wine country.
Throughout the United States and California, sheep are grazing for several reasons in diverse settings. The Napa retreat highlighted producers Robert and Jamie Irwin of Kaos Sheep Outfit. The Irwins graze their sheep in Northern California for fire prevention and vineyard grazing.
The Irwins are responsible for shifting and relocating 20,000 sheep based on seasonality and the vineyards’ needs. In the early spring their sheep are busy at work, scattered throughout the valley, chipping away at the cover crops protecting the precious vineyard soil.
ALB’s influencer group visited three wineries where Kaos sheep are contracted to graze. At each stop the attendees heard from sheep producers and vineyard managers about the impact sheep are having onsite while enjoying locally produced wines.
Attendees learned the important role sheep play in biodynamic farming to increase the quality of fruit produced while also providing a more sustainable farming option. At Beringer Winery, sheep also graze surrounding forest grounds to aid in the fight against wildfires.
“Educational programs for influencers help us grow a better understanding of our industry’s commitment to sustainable production practices,” said Peter Camino, ALB chairman. “We highlighted the benefits of sheep grazing and the importance of supporting American lamb with a group who can share what they learned with their consumer followers.”
The afternoon of learning and wine tasting included lunch at the Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch. Guests were served a variety of American lamb entrées including lamb sliders, house-made lamb merguez sausage, lamb neck gnocchi and lamb shoulder tostadas.
WS Issues Decision on Minnesota Wolf Management
Wildlife Services has issued a Decision and Finding of No Significant Impact for a Final Revised Environmental Assessment titled Management of Wolf Conflicts and Depredating Wolves in Minnesota.
The EA analyzes the potential environmental impacts of alternatives for WS involvement in gray wolf damage and conflict management in Minnesota. The proposed action is to implement an integrated approach using a variety of methods to reduce predation on livestock and other domestic animals and risks to people caused by gray wolves. The EA considers actions that could be taken while wolves are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act and actions that could be taken if wolves are delisted and the state and tribes have primary authority for wolf management.
Based on the analyses contained in the EA and the associated Decision and FONSI, WS concluded that implementation of the proposed action would not have a significant impact upon the quality of the human environment. WS signed the Decision and FONSI on Feb. 21 selecting the proposed action alternative.
Click Here for more information.
Walker Honored by Society for Range Management
John Walker, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service range scientist, San Angelo, and professor in the Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management, received the Sustained Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing more than four decades of substantial contributions to rangeland science and management at the Society for Range Management conference held Feb. 12-16 in Boise, Idaho.
“The Society for Range Management has been very important in my career,” Walker said. “Most of my mentors were members of the organization, held leadership positions and have received similar awards. It feels good to be recognized alongside the people I respect.”
Walker’s passion for sustainable, rangeland-based livestock production has resulted in research spanning the United States, Israel and South Africa. In addition to his work in forage-fed beef production and multi-paddock grazing, Walker is recognized as a pioneer in the field of targeted grazing, having served as editor and co-author of Targeted Grazing: A Natural Approach to Vegetation Management and Landscape Enhancement. Walker has also been a guiding force as the American Sheep Industry Association updates its Targeted Grazing Handbook.
He established the Society for Range Management’s Targeted Grazing Committee – a cohort of practitioners, land managers, and research and extension professionals who educate and certify targeted grazing service providers.
Further, he was the first to develop near-infrared spectroscopy calibrations of feces to determine the vegetation composition of livestock diets. This optical imaging technology – which utilizes broad-spectrum light to illuminate different chemical compounds – is considered a reliable and cost-effective tool that can assist in guiding rangeland management decisions.
Walker’s current research focuses on the selective breeding of goats to consume species of juniper, a woody plant known for its detrimental encroachment on rangelands. Following years of research, he and other collaborators developed a line of goats known as the Aggie Cedar Eaters that consume roughly twice the amount of juniper as the average goat.
In addition to his primary research focus, Walker has published studies on livestock guardian dogs, rangeland hydrology, wool metrology and carbon cycling on rangelands.
Source: Texas A&M AgriLife
Coalition Seeks Passage of SHIP IT
The American Sheep Industry Association joined a coalition of national, regional and state associations this week in calling on congressional leaders to support the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking Act.
“The pandemic highlighted the importance of trucking to our nation’s well-being and we believe economic and environmental benefits can be unlocked through legislative reform,” read the letter to committee leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. “We support the Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking Act and the meaningful solutions it provides to address the need for more truck drivers, truck parking, productivity, environmental efficiency, options during emergencies and flexibility for ag haulers.
“SHIP IT aims to bolster our nation’s driver workforce with two years of tax incentives for qualified drivers, grants to help cover driver schooling costs and additional options for obtaining commercial drivers’ licenses. The bill also provides authorization for additional parking facilities to help improve drivers’ quality of life.
“Further, the bill increases truck productivity and environmental efficiency by allowing states to opt into pilot programs to permit trucks with at least six axles to weigh up to 91,000 pounds on Interstate Highways. The additional axle and associated set of brakes serve to increase stopping capability and trucks would be required to comply with the federal bridge formula and axle weight limits to protect bridges and roads. In addition, SHIP IT provides the Secretary of Transportation the authority to relax truck weight limits during emergencies to help with relief efforts.
“Lastly, SHIP IT helps ag haulers by providing a 150-air-miles exemption from hours-of-service regulations on the backend of hauls to provide needed flexibility for agriculture and its seasonal changes in freight demand.”
Vote for Timmy
Timmy the sheep from Vacaville, Calif., has been selected as a finalist in the Cadbury Bunny Tryouts and needs your vote to beat out a variety of other animals for the job of representing the well-known chocolate company.
Click Here to vote for Timmy. Participants can vote daily through Tuesday.
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