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USDA Accepting Nominations for NSIIC Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking nominees for one producer position and one expert in finance and management to serve three-year terms on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors.

The American Sheep Industry Association is a recognized by USDA as a Certified Nominating Organization to submit nominations. USDA selects appointees from candidates nominated by a CNO – an organization with a principal interest in the production of sheep in the United States and whose membership consists primarily of active domestic sheep producers.

The sheep producer director and director with finance and management emphasis are currently served by Leo Tammi of Virginia and Burton Pfliger of North Dakota. ASI is looking to submit two nominations for each position. Applications for nomination must be submitted to ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick at by April 23.

The board of directors comprises seven voting members and two non-voting members. Voting members include four active American sheep producers, two members with expertise in finance and management and one member with expertise in lamb or wool product marketing. Non-voting members include USDA’s under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs and under secretary for research, education and economics.

AMS policy is that the diversity of the board should reflect the diversity of their industries in experience of members, methods of production and distribution, marketing strategies, and other distinguishing factors that will bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. When submitting nominations, the industry must consider the diversity of the population served and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the members to serve a diverse population.

The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and administers a grant program designed to improve the infrastructure of the American sheep industry by strengthening and enhancing the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products.

Click Here for more information.


Archived SSWS Plan Webinar Now Available

If you missed the March 2 webinar on the Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan, you can now catch it on demand thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the American Sheep Industry Association.

Dr. Danelle Bickett-Weddle described the aspects of the plan that are consistent with other secure food supply plans and highlighted the unique aspects given the lack of clinical signs of Foot and Mouth Disease in sheep, achieving enhanced biosecurity in certain management situations, and wool handling recommendations.

ASI funded the creation of SSWS in 2020. USDA and ASI are funding the development of outreach resources in 2021, which were also previewed. You can read more about the plan in the April issue of the Sheep Industry News.

Click Here to watch the webinar.


SDSU Extension Needs Industry Input

The South Dakota State University Extension Small Ruminant Team is seeking input from sheep and goat producers across the United States to identify producer interests and enhance future extension efforts. Responses collected from the voluntary survey will be compiled into a Sheep and Goat Producers Needs Assessment.

“Across the nation many producers have adapted to the ever-changing dynamics of today’s world. As extension professionals, we have also experienced significant transformations in educational programming and find it is critical to remain in sync with our producers and colleagues across the United States,” says Kelly Froehlich, assistant professor and SDSU extension specialist in small ruminant production. “This year provides a timely opportunity to gather producer preferences on production and management topics and program delivery as well as identify challenges to raising and marketing these animals and products, and finally to learn more about farm and ranch demographics.”

“We believe this nationwide response will add value by identifying collective producer strengths and struggles to cooperatively strengthen extension program efforts in South Dakota and across the United States,” Froehlich says.

The survey is voluntary, confidential and will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Alternatively, printed surveys can be sent by mail upon request.

For more information or questions please contact Froehlich at or 608-688-5765; Jaelyn Quintana, SDSU extension sheep field specialist at or 605-394-1722; or Heidi Carroll, SDSU extension livestock stewardship field specialist and beef quality assurance coordinator at or 605-688-6623.

Source: SDSU Extension


ASI SheepCast: Death Tax Repeal & Immigration Reform

This week’s ASI SheepCast looks at new legislation introduced in Congress, including a Death Tax repeal bill and the Farmworker Modernization Act.

Click Here to listen the SheepCast.

And with spring on us, now is the time to reach out to your members of Congress and remind them of priority issues.

Click Here for one-pagers and talking points on these issues.


Trade Groups Call for MAP, FMD Funding

The American Sheep Industry Association joined more than 100 others groups this week in calling on the U.S. Senate and House agriculture committees to support funding for the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program.

These funds have been crucial to the American sheep industry since the late 1990s. Funding for the sheep industry came at a pivotal time as American sheep producers were losing the domestic textile industry to countries with lower labor and processing costs. ASI uses funds from MAP and FMD programs to support the marketing of American wool and sheepskins to international buyers. For wool, exports have been around 60 to 70 percent of the domestic wool clip in the last decade. The export market is by far the largest market for sheepskins. ASI is the Foreign Agricultural Service cooperator for American wool and sheepskins and the Meat Export Federation receives funds to promote American lamb around the world.

“American farmers and small and medium-sized businesses need continued investment in the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program. The twin challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as competitors’ export promotion programs, highlight the need for continued investment in these public-private partnerships,” read the letter. “We ask that you provide $255 million for Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation and that within this amount, MAP receive at least $200 million and the FMD program receive at least $34.5 million. Working to expand our export markets requires every dollar these programs provide.

“The European Commission announced on December 17, 2020 that it will allocate the equivalent of $222 million to promote European Union agri-food products with promotion programs in countries around the world, including China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico. This announcement signals what many of our organizations expect which is intense competition as markets reopen around the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. MAP/FMD funding is critical to help U.S. farmers, ranchers and food exporters keep pace and to help us make up for lost time after two and half years of trade conflict and retaliatory tariffs.

“Fruitful trade partnerships take time, and these funds for such activities as buyers’ missions, trade shows, and in-country meetings go a long way toward promoting U.S. agricultural trade. One such example is the growth in U.S. food and agricultural exports to China over the last 15 years from $7.7 billion in food and agricultural exports in 2006 to $28.7 billion in 2020. Numbers only tell part of the story. The investment made by these programs and the corresponding growth has helped small and minority-owned businesses reach international markets that they never thought possible.”

“MAP and FMD are cost-share programs and continue to showcase examples of effective public-private partnership. Government investment is an important part of this effort; however, industry funds now represent about 73 percent of total annual spending on market development and promotion, up from roughly 45 percent in 1996 and less than 30 percent in 1991. For every dollar invested, our coalition partners return more than $28 in export gains. And over a decade, these programs are responsible for export growth totaling $309 billion and 240,000 full and part-time jobs.

“This success has occurred even as the real dollar value of the programs has declined. FMD has been funded at the same level for 18 years. For MAP, funding has remained level since 2006 even as sequestration has siphoned funds for almost a decade. We are asking that your subcommittee use discretionary funds to provide $7 million – less than 3 percent of the program investment – for USDA administrative and operational costs to help reverse this diminished value. With administrative and operational funding assured, the full investment of MAP and FMD can be realized for the intended purpose of U.S. agricultural export promotion and long-term market development.”


Deadline Approaching for Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration will end on March 31. All eligible entities can apply through a participating lender until that time.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. First Draw PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits, and may also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.

SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses.

Click Here for more information.


Coalition Calls for Passage of Farm Labor Bill

A coalition of more than 200 trade groups – including the American Sheep Industry Association – sent a letter to the speaker and minority leader of the U.S. House today calling for support of a bill that would stabilize the agricultural workforce.

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was passed with bipartisan support by the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress and represents the lengthy cooperative and negotiated efforts of agricultural employers and labor unions,” read the letter. “This same bill with minimal updates was reintroduced on March 3, 2021. The undersigned groups, representing a broad cross-section of agriculture and its allies, urge you to again advance this same bill through the House to address the agricultural workforce crisis affecting our nation’s farms, and ultimately, our food security.

“A stable, legal workforce is needed to ensure the United States will continue to produce an abundant, safe and affordable food supply. Every farm employee engaged in high-value, labor-intensive crop and livestock production sustains two-to-three off-farm jobs. The critical shortage of these employees not only constrains our farmers and ranchers, but also restricts our global economic competitiveness, hinders local economies and curbs jobs. As foreign producers take advantage of our workforce labor shortage and gain market share, America will export more of our food production and thousands of these farm-dependent jobs.

“Additionally, wage volatility in the H-2A guestworker program makes it extremely difficult for farmers to use the program, as it makes the already expensive and somewhat burdensome program erratic in its price inflation. The recent release of the 2021 Adverse Effect Wage Rates has once again suddenly increased farmers’ labor costs by an average of 5 percent, with some absorbing increases of nearly 9 percent, all while revenues for agricultural goods continue to diminish. These AEWR increases far outpace average wage growth across the broader U.S. economy during the same two-year span.

“While the bill does include some provisions concerning to the agricultural community, we are committed to working together throughout the legislative process to address these issues. It is vital to move the Farm Workforce Modernization Act through the House as a significant step in addressing our labor crisis so American agriculture can continue to feed our nation and the world.”


Australian Market Mixed Again This Week

The Australian wool market has again posted mixed results across all three selling centers, with another overall week of very little change. Selling moved to Wednesday and Thursday to accommodate a Monday holiday in Melbourne and to avoid any center selling in isolation.

Only 22.6 percent of the selection was style 4 or better and these types attracted strong support. These highly sought-after wools generally sold at levels above the previous week. In contrast, lower-yielding, lesser-style wools – particularly those with higher vegetable matter levels – continually lost ground as buyers struggled to average them into their purchases. These lesser-style wools accounted for a large part of the 9.3 percent of wool that was passed in.

The individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece in Sydney and Melbourne recorded movements of between -17 and +18 cents. The Fremantle region – which sold last on both selling days – had the most positive result. The Western MPGs recorded movements of between 0 and +28 cents. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator fell by the smallest of margins – 1 cent was shaved off the EMI – and closed at 1,309 Australian cents. In contrast to the often-volatile movements in the market this season, the EMI has now traded between 1,309 and 1,318 cents in the past month.

The crossbreds were the only sector to record falls across all regions. The crossbred MPGs recorded movements of between 0 and -38 cents. In a similar pattern to the previous series, prices in the carding market increased across all three centers – again the only sector to do so. Strong gains in stains, locks and crutchings helped push the three Merino Carding Indicators up by an average of 19 cents.

Next week’s national offering increases as there are currently 53,357 bales on offer in Sydney, Fremantle and Melbourne.

Source: AWEX


Video of the Week

Montana producer Ben Lehfeldt talks about the formation of Sheep Genetics USA with Russell Nemetz of the Western Ag Network.

Click Here to watch the video.

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