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Apply Now for ASI’s Sheep Heritage Scholarship

Applications are open for the American Sheep Industry Association’s annual Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship. The deadline to apply is May 31 and the recipient will be announced in June or July.

The $3,000 scholarship will be awarded to one graduate level (MS or Ph.D.) student who is attending school in the United States.

The scholarship was developed to drive advancement in the American sheep industry, through either wool or lamb research. Applicants must be a graduate student involved in sheep and/or wool research in such areas as animal science, agriculture economics or veterinary medicine with proof of graduate school acceptance. Applicants must also be a United States citizen, present two letters of reference and complete the application.

Click Here for more information and to apply.


Avian Influenza Confirmed in Goat

A goat kid residing on a farm in Minnesota with a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza positive poultry flock tested positive for the same virus. This is the first U.S. detection of HPAI in a domestic ruminant (cattle, sheep, goats and their relatives).

In February, all poultry on the property had been quarantined due to an HPAI detection. All other species on the premises were quarantined by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health following the confirmation of HPAI in the goat. The board is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the transmission of the virus in this case.

“This finding is significant because, while the spring migration is definitely a higher risk transmission period for poultry, it highlights the possibility of the virus infecting other animals on farms with multiple species,” said Minnesota State Veterinarian Dr. Brian Hoefs. “Thankfully, research to-date has shown mammals appear to be dead-end hosts, which means they’re unlikely to spread HPAI further.”

Earlier this month, the farm owner notified the board of unusual deaths of newly kidded goats on the property where a backyard poultry flock had been depopulated due to HPAI in February. The goats and poultry had access to the same space, including a shared water source.

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed influenza A virus in a goat carcass, and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories later confirmed H5N1 HPAI, which is the same virus circulating in the national outbreak that began in 2022. Samples from the adult goats were negative for HPAI and all appear to be healthy. No more sick goat kids have been reported since March 11.

HPAI has been previously diagnosed in other mammalian species such as skunks, dogs and cats. Animals with weakened or immature immune systems are at higher risk of contracting disease. There has been limited experimental data on HPAI infection in ruminants, and there are no prior reports of natural HPAI infection in goats. USDA has tracked more than 200 detections of HPAI in mammals across the country since the start of the 2022 HPAI outbreak.

The Minnesota Department of Health has provided recommendations for personal protective equipment and is monitoring the health of those in direct contact with the infected goats. Anyone who develops respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms after exposure to the goats may be voluntarily tested for avian influenza and other respiratory pathogens. The risk to the public is extremely low, and any risk of infection is limited to people in direct contact with infected animals. To date, no people in the United States have become ill following contact with mammals infected with this virus.

Biosecurity is the first line of defense for anyone to protect their animals from disease and includes simple measures such as keeping species separated – including separating livestock from wild animals – cleaning equipment and housing regularly, and calling your veterinarian when animals appear sick. To learn more important steps to protect your animals from HPAI and other diseases, visit the MN Board’s biosecurity webpage.

For specific biosecurity recommendations for sheep, please visit the American Sheep Industry Association’s Biosecurity for Sheep Farms webpage.


Australian Wool Market Falters

The Australian wool market recorded an overall reduction again this series, driven by losses in the Merino fleece sector. The national offering rose by 3,978 bales to 44,033 bales.

The majority of the losses were recorded on the opening day of selling. By the close of the day, the individual Micron Price Guides had fallen by between 9 and 43 cents in the Merino fleece. The largest falls were in Sydney and Fremantle, as these centers were yet to realize the losses in the market recorded in the standalone Melbourne sale on Thursday of last week. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator closed the day 16 cents lower. This was equal to the largest daily fall in the EMI this calendar year, and the largest fall since August last year – when the EMI fell by 24 cents.

The market settled on the second selling day with a positive finish in the West, where all MPGs posted rises. Varied movements in the Eastern centers ended with a 1-cent daily rise in the EMI. The EMI closed the series 15 cents lower at 1,152 Australian cents for a 1.3-percent drop.

In contrast to the previous series – due to a strengthening Australian dollar – in USD terms, the overall fall was larger. The EMI lost 19 U.S. cents for the series, closing at 753 cents for a 2.5-percent fall.

The oddments defied the trend of the other sectors once again. Strong interest – particularly in locks – helped push the market higher. Since the start of the calendar year, the three Merino Carding Indicators have recorded an average positive movement for nine out of 11 selling series. The three regional MC opened the year at an average of 700 cents. These indicators now average 741 cents – an increase of 5.9 percent.

Next week’s national offering is forecast to rise to 49,814 bales.

Click Here for the Australian Wool Report Prices in US Dollars Per Pound.

Source: AWEX


District Court Upholds Sheep Grazing

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico issued a decision on March 7, upholding the Forest Service’s authorization of domestic sheep grazing on public lands in the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado.

The American Sheep Industry Association and the Colorado Wool Growers Association supported the efforts of the Western Resources Legal Center in this case.

The decision rejected the plaintiffs’ claims under the National Environmental Policy Act and National Forest Management Act that the agency failed to adequately analyze potential risks of disease transmission from domestic to bighorn sheep.

The court’s decision focuses on the Forest Service’s use of a so-called Risk of Contact model to assess risks to bighorns. Plaintiffs WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project had claimed that the Forest Service discounted the risks to bighorn sheep herds in the area, including the Central San Juan, the Weminuche and the San Juan West herds. Among other things, WG/WWP argued that the Forest Service improperly took into account factors beyond the modeling data – such as best management practices – to conclude that the risks of exposure and disease transmission were insignificant.

Judge Domenico found the Risk of Contact model is only one of many factors that the agency should consider when evaluating the risk of disease transmission between domestic sheep and wild bighorn herds, following on the heels of a similar decision in the Eastern District of Washington, WildEarth Guardians v. Bail, 2021 WL 1550567, at *4 (E.D. Wash. Apr. 20, 2021), where WRLC represented grazing permittees in similar circumstances. As the court noted in both cases, the Risk of Contact model has limitations and does not necessarily account for real-world factors, including the timing of domestic sheep grazing to avoid bighorn movement patterns and other best management practices, that may impact the actual likelihood of domestic and wild sheep crossing paths.

This good result reinforces the agency’s discretion to use common sense and best management practices to reduce the risks of potential disease transmission and may help provide greater flexibility to permit sheep grazing on public lands going forward.

Click Here for the full opinion.

Source: Western Resource Legal Center


Coalition Seeks Additional Time on Sage Grouse

The American Sheep Industry Association joined a coalition of Western agricultural producers this week in calling for an extension of the deadline to comment on the Bureau of Land Management’s Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement for Greater Sage-Grouse Rangewide Planning.

The plan was posted to the Federal Register on March 15 with 90 days for comment – and just 60 days for comment on Areas for Critical Environmental Concern. The letter to BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning and BLM Sage-Grouse Conservation Coordinator Pat Deibert asks for the deadline to be extended until Sept. 11 due to the busy spring schedule for most Western ranchers.

“The scope of this proposal is enormous, with 10 states, 77 land use plans and millions of acres impacted. The BLM has constructed an umbrella that shadows an incredible diversity of different landscapes, dominant land uses, predator concerns, wild horse and burro numbers, habitat health conditions, fire risks and more. It will be nigh impossible for stakeholders to provide the local, landscape-level attention that this plan requires in just 90 – or 60, for ACECs – days. With more than 600 pages of analysis and information to chew through, many of the entities that are closest to the land and best qualified to provide input, including farmers, ranchers, and county government officials, will be hard pressed to meet the BLM’s initial deadline.

“Additionally, providing such a short window will neuter the efficacy of the planned in-person meetings, since there will be very little time to thoughtfully digest and incorporate the discussion into comments. The length of the scoping comment period for this proposal was 75 days. Given how much material has been generated during the rulemaking process, the undersigned organizations believe that doubling that 75-day benchmark should be a minimum number, not a maximum.”

Click Here to read the full Federal Register listing.


Texas A&M Conducting LGD Survey

Now’s your chance to tell Texas A&M AgriLife what livestock guardian dogs do for your farm or ranch and how predation affects your operation.

Texas A&M AgriLife is conducting a survey of livestock producers across the United States. All responses will be confidential. A report on LGD use and predation will be tabulated based on the survey results later this year. Information from the survey will help better understand livestock producers’ needs to improve the LGD program.

Click Here to take the survey.

Source: Texas A&M AgriLife


Resort Chefs Attend BaaaBQ Mastery Workshop

The American Lamb Board hosted a pre-conference workshop for 50 club and resort chefs at the annual Chef to Chef Conference, which took place in Austin, Texas, on March 3-5.

Longtime rancher Alan McAnelly of Hamilton Sheep Station in Hamilton, Texas, and chef Kareem El-Ghayesh of KG BBQ in Austin hosted the BaaaBQ Mastery workshop. The duo led a powerful class with captivating content that drew in chefs from clubs and resorts from across the country.

McAnelly focused on his love for the sheep industry and regenerative agriculture practices, including showing the Stewards of the Land video, while El-Ghayesh spoke about his passion for BBQ.

Attendees were provided with information about the lamb industry in the United States and its environmental benefits before learning about ways to use American lamb on their menus. El-Ghayesh educated participants about the versatility and cost-effectiveness of using larger cuts and how to trim American lamb. He then shared best practices for creating seasonings and rubs along with smoking tips and tricks.

In addition to the workshop, ALB served bite-sized samples from the conference exhibit to the more than 400 chefs in attendance during the next two days.

“We gathered valuable insights on American lamb usage, preferred cuts and local sourcing options,” said ALB Culinary Marketing Manager Mariah Meurer, who helped serve up smoked American lamb shoulder and handed out educational materials at the two-day event.

Source: ALB


Legislative Update from Washington, D.C.

The American Sheep Industry Association’s lobbying firm – Cornerstone Government Affairs – offered an update this week on legislative issues in our nation’s capital.

Senate Ag Minority Releases Proposal

The Senate Agriculture Committee Minority – led by Ranking Member John Boozman (Ark.) – released a press statement titled, Avoiding The Conservation Cliff – A Bipartisan Solution. The article highlights that Congress is currently faced with a unique and historic opportunity to bolster funding for conservation, natural resource preservation and wildlife habitat by reallocating funds from the Inflation Reduction Act into a bipartisan Farm Bill.

Statistics from the statement show this move could result in more than $44 billion in additional conservation spending in the next 25 years, exceeding three times the expiring IRA resources, which are set to sunset in Fiscal Year 2031. Emphasizing the importance of prioritizing additional baseline funding for the conservation title within the Farm Bill, the proponents argued that failing to seize this opportunity risks missing out on significant investment in locally led conservation efforts.

Despite disagreements over climate requirements in the IRA, bipartisan consensus is seen as attainable through the eyes of Senate Ag Minority, offering the chance to enhance soil health, water quality and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, benefiting farmers, ranchers and foresters while addressing pressing environmental challenges for future generations.

Click Here for the full statement.

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