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Start Working Now for AWA Certification

There’s no time like the present for sheep producers to get involved with the voluntary American Wool Assurance Program from the American Sheep Industry Association.

This spring is the perfect time to develop an operating plan and start organizing records for producers who want to become certified in the first year of the program.

Consumers indicate that, despite knowing little about day-to-day management of animals, they value the independent evaluation of an operation’s practices. They value knowing that animals are managed to certain guidelines, or industry standards, and there are various levels provided by the AWA Program. One level includes a third-party audit as consumers value knowing that an independent party verifies that specified guidelines or standards are followed. Independent verification of program implementation is not only an exponentially growing, value-added opportunity in all of livestock and agriculture, it is now a requirement for market access in many sectors.

The American sheep industry has developed a voluntary program after fielding growing requests from manufacturers and textile mills to implement a standard in the United States. A review of other certified wool programs found that those standards did not truly reflect American wool production practices, nor were the plans generated by the sheep industry.

This is an opportunity, and early participation in the voluntary AWA Program provides producers with a chance to lead in the implementation of a practical program developed by the American sheep industry.

The AWA Program includes three levels:

  • Level 1 – Producer Education
  • Level 2 – Second Party Assessment
  • Level 3 – Third Party Certification

Online Level 1 training will be offered in May. Completion of this training will prepare participants to advance to Level 2 or Level 3 by 2022.

The AWA Program is one of several international certification options for sheep producers, but it’s the only one that is producer-driven and constructed by sheep industry professionals from producers to shearers to wool buyers.

The AWA Program standards are available now by emailing Heather Pearce at or calling 303-771-3500, ext. 102. In addition to the online educational course, an AWA Program website is also under development and should be available in late spring.


Wildlife Services Posts FY 2020 Data

On March 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife damage management program, Wildlife Services, posted its annual Program Data Reports for fiscal year 2020. The reports are available on the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service webpage, representing the 25th year that WS has shared this information about its wildlife damage management activities.

APHIS Wildlife Services’ activities seek to reduce or eliminate more than an estimated $232 million in livestock loss due to predation and $150 million in bird damage to crops caused by native and invasive wildlife annually. Comprehensive estimates of all types of wildlife damage are difficult to gauge, but each year wildlife strikes cause $625 million in loss to American civil aviation while also posing a potential loss of life. APHIS responds to requests for assistance from individuals, companies and other government agencies when wildlife causes or threatens damage to human health/safety, agriculture, natural resources and property.

In FY20, APHIS encountered about 22.5 million animals while responding to calls for assistance and dispersed nearly 21 million wildlife from urban, rural and other settings where they were causing damage. APHIS dispersed almost 93 percent of the animals encountered. Not all conflicts can be resolved with nonlethal methods alone. Of all wildlife encountered, WS lethally removed 6.7 percent or 1.5 million, in targeted areas to reduce damage. Invasive species accounted for 71 percent (1,075,704) and native species 29 percent (433,192). Of the wildlife lethally removed:

  • 74 percent were either an invasive species or a native blackbird listed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Depredation Order due to the damage they cause.
  • The invasive species removed included more than 15,000 brown tree snakes on Guam, 113,331 feral swine and 790,000 European starlings.
  • Of native wildlife lethally removed, 62,700 were coyotes. Coyotes reportedly kill more than 300,000 head of livestock annually and injure even more.
  • 57,000 were native Northern pike minnow that APHIS removed to protect federally threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.

Where WS uses lethal control, APHIS works to make full use of the resource which includes the donation of 129 tons of goose, deer/elk and other meat – nearly 1 million servings of protein – for people in need.

In FY 2020, APHIS used $83.9 million in appropriated funds to help manage wildlife damage operations in every state and territory and to support special programs, such as managing feral swine damage and rabies in raccoons and other wildlife. APHIS also received funding from program cooperators, including federal and state agencies, counties, agricultural producer groups, other organizations, businesses and individuals. This allows the program to maximize its scope and effectiveness. During FY 2020, WS received $101.6 million in cooperator-provided funding (55 percent) for field-based operational wildlife damage management.

APHIS used almost half (43 percent) of WS’ operational funding for field activities to reduce or prevent wildlife hazards to human health and safety, such as wildlife collisions with aircraft and disease transmission. APHIS spent about one-quarter (28 percent) of its funding to protect agriculture, including livestock, row crops, aquaculture and timber. APHIS spent the remaining 28 percent on protection of property and natural resources, including threatened and endangered species.

Click Here to learn more.



SheepCast: Guest Herders, HAULS Act & Appointments

This week’s American Sheep Industry Association SheepCast takes a look at passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, the Senate introduction of the HAULS Act for livestock haulers, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Click Here to listen the podcast.


NLFA Plans Trailblazers Tour for Fall

The National Lamb Feeders Association is once again looking to partner with the American Sheep Industry Association’s Young Entrepreneurs and the American Lamb Board for the next generation of sheep industry leadership school.

In cooperation with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, the inaugural Trailblazers Tour is scheduled for late September. NLFA is planning an event that will appeal to a wide cross section of the American sheep industry and will visit a variety of Texas sheep industry operations.

More information will be posted on NLFA’s Facebook and Leadership School Facebook pages as it becomes available.

Source: NLFA


Limited-Edition Yarn Features Hansmire Flock Wool

Colorado producer Julie Hansmire is featured in a new video from Brooklyn Tweed spotlighting the company’s line of limited-edition, sport-weight yarn from Hansmire’s Merino flock.

For 30 years, Hansmire has been lovingly tending and thoughtfully breeding her Merino flock, honing the sheep’s high-quality fleece into a supple wool with unparalleled softness. Dedicating herself to the hard-bitten life of open range ranching, her commitment to the Merino breed shines through her joyful demeanor and earnest candor.

Click Here to learn more about the yarn line.

Click Here to watch the video.


Australian Wool Market Slips Downward

After weeks of small movements, the Australian wool market tracked downward this week, with nearly all sectors of the market suffering losses. Wool on hold continues to bolster offerings and compared to the previous season there have been 63,349 more bales put through the auction system – 5.6 percent more than the corresponding sale of the previous season.

Good-style fleece (MF3/4/5) – particularly those with good additional measurement results – received strong buyer support and were least affected by the falling market. The Merino fleece Micron Price Guides across the country fell by between 17 and 82 cents. The losses in these MPGs combined with losses in the skirting, crossbred and oddment sectors pushed the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator down by 32 cents. The EMI closed the week at 1,277 Australian cents, a fall of 2.4 percent.

The drop in prices was met with seller resistance, pushing the passed-in rate up across the country. By the end of the series, 16.9 percent was passed in – an increase of 7.6 percent compared to the previous series. Due to further strengthening of the Australian dollar (AUD), when viewed in U.S. dollar terms the fall in the EMI was lower. The EMI dropped 14 U.S. cents, closing at 1,004 U.S. cents – a 1.4-percent reduction. Currency movement has had a large effect on the market during the previous 12 months. When viewed in AUD, the EMI has fallen 161 cents – an 11.2-percent reduction. However, when viewed in USD terms, the EMI has gained 199 cents for a solid 24.9 percent increase.

The skirtings followed a similar path to the fleece. General losses of between 30 and 50 cents, which in percentage terms was a similar fall to the fleece. Next week’s national offering lowers, due in part to the weaker market. There are currently 46,578 bales on offer in Sydney, Fremantle and Melbourne.

Source: AWEX


Video of the Week

Episode four of the Unrivaled series from Experience Wool and the American Sheep Industry Association’s American Wool Council features sheep shearer Pierre Monnat and the care he takes in harvesting American wool.

Click Here to watch the video.


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