Section 32 Lamb Purchase Awarded
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service has awarded a $5.7 million Section 32 purchase of lamb to Superior Farms. When combined with an earlier buy, AMS has now purchased more than $8 million in American lamb.
“At the request of the American Sheep Industry Association and the National Lamb Feeders Association, this $8 million in purchases represents a new customer for American lamb that will spur additional demand for the product,” said ASI President Brad Boner. “We appreciate USDA accommodating a variety of cuts with this purchase.”
The most recent purchase includes more than 483,000 pounds of diced lamb, leg roasts, loin chops and shoulder chops. Deliveries of the product are to be made between June 1 and Oct. 31. The purchase will benefit child nutrition and other domestic food distribution programs.
Sheep Industry Flocks to Washington, D.C
Sheep producers from 16 states traveled to our nation’s capital this week for the American Sheep Industry Association’s annual Spring Trip.
The legislative fly-in offers sheep producers the opportunity to hear from several government agencies about policies affecting everything from public lands grazing to animal health and international trade. Sheep producers then take a day or two to meet with congressional leaders from their respective states.
“The Spring Trip allows our members to discuss issues affecting the industry with both agency and congressional leadership, and is a prime opportunity to put a spotlight on the ways that government leaders can assist American sheep producers in the future,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “We always welcome the chance to meet firsthand with leaders of the agencies that work every day on the front lines with our industry. It’s an important time in helping them to understand how agency programs do or don’t work for our membership.”
Click Here for more information on some of the issues producers addressed with congressional leaders during this year’s Spring Trip.
Apply Now for Sheep Heritage Scholarship
The American Sheep Industry Association’s Sheep Heritage Foundation is once again accepting applications for the Sheep Heritage Scholarship. The scholarship will award $3,000 in financial support to a graduate student pursuing a sheep-related study that will support the advancement of the American sheep industry, lamb and wool.
Graduate students involved in sheep and/or wool research in such areas as animal science, agriculture economics or veterinary medicine are eligible to apply. Applicants must be enrolled in a graduate school in the United States and must be a United States citizen.
Students should complete a scholarship application and submit it with two letters of reference and proof of graduate school acceptance/enrollment. The deadline to apply is May 31.
Click Here for more information and the application.
Wool LDPs Available
If you haven’t talked to your local U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency office about getting a Loan Deficiency Payment, now is the time. LDPs are payments offered by USDA for wool producers. An Ungraded LDP is currently offered at $0.40/lb grease weight, as well as some Graded LDPs for specific micron wool.
To apply for an LDP, the producer must have beneficial interest of the wool. For those in a wool pool, when your wool joins the pool, you lose beneficial interest. For those that send their wool with their shearer and are paid on the spot, that is when you lose beneficial interest. So, be sure to apply for an LDP before sending your wool into a pool or with your shearer.
The easiest way to show how much wool you produced is with a sales document, weight ticket or core test report. However, other options are available. Find out more at www.sheepusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/LDP-Production-Evidence.pdf.
Wools ranging from 23.6 to 25.9 microns are currently eligible for a $0.96 per lb Graded LDP. For the Graded LDP, the wool will need to have a core test report showing the micron and a clean weight. Also, remember that a Graded LDP can be used for 23.6 to 25.9 micron wool in combination with an Ungraded LDP for all other wools.
Click Here for more information.
Australian Wool Market Remains Unchanged
The Australian wool market recorded an overall unchanged result this series. The market was on track to record a second successive increase before a weak finish on the final selling day reversed the rises.
On the opening day in the East, the movements in the Merino fleece Micron Price Guides were varied, ranging between -14 and + 25 cents. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator gained 2 cents for the day. On the second day, the market continued to trade at similar levels and the movements in the MPGs for 18 micron and coarser were small, between unchanged and +9 cents. The EMI gained another 2 cents for the day. On the final day, only Melbourne was in operation and despite a solid opening the market weakened as the day progressed. The MPGs for 20 micron and finer lost between 2 and 23 cents as only the 21-micron MPG remained unchanged. The EMI lost the 4 cents gained during the previous two days. The EMI closed the week unchanged at 1,318 Australian cents.
The Fremantle sales were again the best performers for the second week in a row. In the West, the Merino fleece MPGs added between 11 and 29 cents for the series. The increases pushed the MPGs for 19, 19.5 and 20 microns above the closing levels of the Eastern centers. The crossbreds were the poorest performing sector – in percentage terms – this week. The crossbred MPGs – 26 to 32 micron – fell by between 5 and 13 cents, with only the 28-micron MPG in the North not recording a fall. The largest drops were in Melbourne, where the 28- and 30-micron MPGs both fell by 4 percent.
Next week’s national offering is forecast to climb to 52,724 bales in Sydney, Fremantle and Melbourne, which was restricted to two days selling due to the Good Friday Public Holiday.
Click Here for the Full Australian Wool Market Report
Spots Available in California Shearing School
Registration has been extended until midnight on Tuesday for the University of California Cooperative Extension Shearing School scheduled for April 10-14 in Ukiah, Calif. The school was originally set for March, but had to be rescheduled due to severe weather in the area.
Shearing school participants will learn to shear sheep using the methods taught by certified instructors of the National Shearing Program. This five-day hands-on course is intended for both the beginner as well as the advanced shearer. It is especially designed to teach students how to shear sheep to maintain a quality wool clip and minimize stress to both the shearer and the sheep. In addition, participants will learn about the shearing machine, how to care for and maintain the handpiece and how to sharpen combs and cutters. Students will also learn how to handle the fleece once it’s off the sheep, including the proper way to throw it onto a table for skirting.
The course fee is $850 per student. The American Sheep Industry Association Sheep Shearing Guide and DVD are provided to each student. All shearing equipment is provided.
Click Here to register.
ALB to Hire Director of Sustainability Programs
Sustainability has become a top priority for the American Lamb Board. Several new projects have been funded and more are in the works to promote the sheep industry’s commitment to sustainability and to quantify and improve the industry’s environmental impacts.
To support the many programs and opportunities for American lamb producers, ALB will hire a director of sustainability programs to:
- Develop and maintain a nationally recognized solar grazing education program and potentially other contract grazing opportunities.
- Work with industry partners to improve American lamb sustainability furthering the climate-smart project initiatives.
This individual will be responsible for developing and managing ALB’s solar grazing education program and other contract grazing opportunities. The individual in this position is expected to work with academic and industry professionals and organizations to conduct at least four grazing schools annually in different geographic regions of the country. Further, this individual is expected to develop industry partnerships, establish external support for education programs, and engage in conversations with solar industry professionals to improve development of “sheep-friendly” solar installations.
ALB is an industry-funded national research, promotion and information checkoff program that works on behalf of all American producers, feeders, seedstock producers, direct marketers and processors to build awareness and demand for American lamb. This position will support ALB’s mission and goals set forth by the 2023-2028 strategic plan.
The selection committee will begin reviewing applications on May 1. A full position description is available on LambResourceCenter.com. For additional information please contact ALB Executive Director Megan Wortman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-759-3001 ext. 1.
USDA Announces Additional Farmer Assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that beginning in April it will provide approximately $123 million in additional, automatic financial assistance for qualifying farm loan program borrowers who are facing financial risk, as part of the $3.1 billion to help distressed farm loan borrowers that was provided through Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act. The announcement builds on financial assistance offered to borrowers through the same program in October 2022.
The IRA directed USDA to expedite assistance to distressed borrowers of direct or guaranteed loans administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency whose operations face financial risk. For example, in the October payments, farmers that were 60 days delinquent due to challenges such as natural disasters, the pandemic or other unexpected situations were brought current and had their next installment paid to give them breathing room.
“In too many cases, the rules surrounding our farm loan programs may actually be detrimental to helping a borrower get back to a financially viable path. As a result, some are pushed out of farming and others stuck under a debt burden that prevents them from growing or reacting to opportunities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Loan programs for the newest and more vulnerable producers must be about providing opportunity and tailored to expect and manage stumbles and hurdles along the way. Through this assistance, USDA is focusing on generating long-term stability and success for distressed borrowers.”
In October 2022, USDA provided approximately $800 million in initial IRA assistance to more than 11,000 delinquent direct and guaranteed borrowers and approximately 2,100 borrowers who had their farms liquidated and still had remaining debt. USDA shared that it would conduct case-by-case reviews of about 1,600 complex cases for potential initial relief payments, including cases of borrowers in foreclosure or bankruptcy. These case-by-case reviews are underway.
At the same time in October 2022, USDA announced that it anticipated payments using separate pandemic relief funding totaling roughly $66 million on more than 7,000 direct loans to borrowers who used the USDA Farm Service Agency’s disaster-set-aside option during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of these payments have been processed and USDA anticipates it will complete all such payments in April.
FSA intends to provide the new round of relief starting in April to additional distressed borrowers. This will include approximately $123 million in automatic financial assistance for qualifying Farm Loan Program direct loan borrowers who meet certain criteria. Similar to the automatic payments announced in October 2022, qualifying borrowers will receive an individual letter detailing the assistance as payments are made. Distressed borrowers’ eligibility for these new categories of automatic payments will be determined based on their circumstances as of today. More information about the new categories that make up the $123 million in assistance and the specific amount of assistance a distressed borrower receives can be found described in this fact sheet, IRA Section 22006: Additional Automatic Payments, Improved Procedures and Policy Recommendations.
To continue to make sure producers are aware of relief potentially available to them, all producers with open FLP loans will receive a letter detailing a new opportunity to receive assistance if they took certain extraordinary measures to avoid delinquency on their FLP loans, such as taking on more debt, selling property or cashing out retirement accounts. The letter will provide details on eligibility, the specific types of actions that may qualify for assistance, and the process for applying for and providing the documentation to seek that assistance.
Click Here for the full press release.
Family Businesses Support Death Tax Repeal Act
The American Sheep Industry Association joined more than 150 small business associations this week in supporting Sen. John Thune’s (S.D.) Death Tax Repeal Act of 2023. The coalition letter released by the Family Business Coalition, was signed by business groups from every sector of the economy.
The letter reads in part: “It makes no sense to require grieving families to pay a confiscatory tax on their loved one’s nest egg. Far too often this tax is paid by selling family assets like farms and businesses. Other times, employees of the family business must be laid off and payrolls slashed. No one should be punished for fulfilling the American dream. The negative effects of the estate tax make permanent repeal the only solution for family businesses and farms. Your legislation will help America’s family businesses create jobs, expand operations and grow the economy.”
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increased the current estate tax exemption but only on a temporary basis. If no legislation is passed by Dec. 31, 2025, the number of families subject to the death tax will increase, causing more business closures and job losses. America’s family businesses believe the only permanent policy solution for the death tax is repeal.
After a lifetime of paying taxes, Congress should be doing everything possible to help make transitioning to the next generation of ownership as painless as possible for family businesses. ASI appreciates Sen. Thune’s efforts on this front and is proud to stand with a large coalition in support of the Death Tax Repeal Act.
Click Here for a full copy of the Family Business Coalition letter.
How Wool Growers are Mitigating Methane
Australian woolgrowers and the wool-growing industry are exploring the most effective solutions to mitigating methane, improving the eco-credentials of Merino wool from farm through to finished product, the use phase and ultimately end-of-life of the garment. The global fashion and textiles industry contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The production, transportation and care of clothing all generate greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
The Australian wool industry is committed to reducing the level of methane emissions. The Woolmark Company’s parent body is proactively investing in research into reducing and offsetting methane emissions generated at the on-farm stage of Merino wool production.
Click Here for the full story.