Image of sheep

ASI Seeking Nominations for ALB, NSIIC

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking nominees for both the American Lamb Board and the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center. The American Sheep Industry Association is a certified nominating organization for both ALB and NSIIC and is now accepting nominations from those interested in filling these roles.

All nomination forms must be submitted to ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick by May 1. Forms can be emailed to The ASI Executive Board will then choose a slate of nominees to forward to USDA for consideration. USDA requires at least two nominees for each position.

For ALB, USDA/AMS is seeking nominees to succeed one producer with 101 to 500 lambs, one producer with more than 500 lambs, one feeder with 5,000 or more lambs, and a first handler, all with terms that expire in early 2025. Any U.S. producer, feeder or first handler who owns or purchases lambs may be considered for nomination.

Either the producer with 100 or less lambs or the producer with more than 500 lambs must be from Region I – east of the Mississippi River. The feeder with less than 5,000 lambs may be from either Region I or Region II – west of the Mississippi River.

These positions are currently filled by Jimmy Parker of Alabama, David Fisher of Texas, Steve Schreier of Minnesota and Andrew Allman of Colorado. Each are eligible for reappointment.

The 13-member board was established to maintain and expand the market for sheep and sheep products with industry funding via the American Lamb checkoff. ASI coordinated sheep industry development and support of the checkoff with implementation in 2002 and two nationally approved referendums in the ensuring years.

Click Here for more information on the ALB openings.

USDA/AMS is seeking nominees for one producer position and one expert in finance and management to serve three-year terms on the NSIIC Board of Directors.

The positions are currently filled by Leo Tammi of Virginia and Burton Pfliger of North Dakota, both of whom are not eligible for reappointment after serving consecutive three-year terms.

The center’s board of directors is comprised of seven voting members and two non-voting members. Voting members include four active U.S. sheep producers, two members with expertise in finance and management and one member with expertise in lamb or wool product marketing.

The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center was established – at the request of ASI – as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and administers a grant program designed to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. sheep industry by strengthening and enhancing the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products.

Click Here for more information on the NSIIC openings.

AMS policy is that diversity of the boards, councils and committees it oversees should reflect the diversity of their industries in terms of the experience of members, methods of production and distribution, marketing strategies and other distinguishing factors, including but not limited to individuals from historically underserved communities, that will bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. Throughout the full nomination process, the industry must conduct extensive outreach, paying particular attention to reaching underserved communities, and consider the diversity of the population served and the knowledge, skills and abilities of the members to serve a diverse population.


Australian Market Hits Hot Streak

The Australian wool market recorded a solid overall increase in this series, driven by strong price rises in the Merino fleece sector.
The first selling day in the Eastern centers, the market was mixed but overall positive. The market closed the day strongly in the West, setting the East up for a robust second-day opening. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator added 4 cents for the day. The second day opened dearer as expected, then slowly but noticeably climbed as the sale progressed. All Merino fleece Micron Price Guides recorded increases – between 7 and 26 cents.

The 10-cent rise in the EMI was the largest daily rise this calendar year, and the largest since Dec. 13, 2023. The EMI added 14 cents for the series, which was the largest weekly rise of the 2024 calendar year and the largest weekly rise in the EMI since the close of the 2023 calendar year, where the EMI gained 35 cents for the series. The EMI has now fallen only twice in the last nine selling days, although during this time the market movements have been minimal. The EMI has added 17 cents during this period; however, the average daily movement of the EMI was just 3 cents – both positive and negative movements – across these nine selling days. This small average movement highlights the stagnant nature of the market in recent months, making this week’s mini spike welcome news to sellers.

Next week’s quantity is forecast to rise, due in part to sellers being encouraged to the market. There are currently 42,390 bales rostered nationally. As all centers no longer move if one center has a local public holiday, next week is an unusual selling pattern. Sydney and Fremantle will sell on Tuesday/Wednesday while Melbourne will sell on Wednesday/Thursday.

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

Source: AWEX


Shearing Weekend Set for Colorado

Rocky Mountain Golden Fleece will be holding the first of three open shearing weekends on March 23-24 – starting at 8:30 a.m. each day – in Mack, Colo.

Shearing will be done by The Basque Shearer – Justin Etchart and Matthew Bonnell. The cost is $10 per ewe, $20 per ram. Flock drop off can be arranged for the evening on March 22 or starting at 7:30 a.m. on each shearing day. Staff will be present to guide producers to the drop-off chute and parking.

The Mesa Fiber Arts Guild will be joining the event to lend its expertise in sorting, skirting and handling fleeces. If you need your sheep, llamas or alpacas shorn, please call 970-260-2130 to provide numbers needing shorn. All flock sizes from 1 to 100 are welcome.

Source: Rocky Mountain Golden Fleece 


NDSU, UMN Extension Plan Wool Webinar

North Dakota State University Extension and University of Minnesota Extension are hosting a webinar at 7 p.m. central time on Thursday for producers to learn more about current wool production, processing and industry dynamics for the future.

“Wool value for Midwest producers has been stagnant for production of fine and medium wools,” said Travis Hoffman, sheep specialist for NDSU Extension and UMN Extension. “Opportunities exist to create value from their 2024 wool clip by working with processors and artisan wool marketing.”

A majority of fleeces from sheep originating in the Midwest are worth a minimal return. While finer fibers are worth only $1 to $2 per pound, medium wool values are substantially less, which can be frustrating to producers wishing to pay for shearing and see return on the year’s wool production. Also, the Wool Loan Deficiency payment provides incentive for ungraded wool worth $0.40 per pound through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

“We are working with the fiber industry to connect sheep producers with wool processors,” said Sabrina Florentino, UMN Extension educator for alternative livestock systems. “We hope to build a network of wool producers to match the demand for wool and wool products to add value throughout the supply chain.”

Jessie Monson, owner of Yarn Factory LLC; Theresa Bentz, owner of Get Bentz Farm and Badgerface Fiber; and Maddy Bartsch, president of the Three Rivers Fibershed will share their expertise for producers and wool/fiber enthusiasts.

“Join us to learn the next steps to profitability with fiber-producing animals, creating new markets, and offering products that reach an expanded audience of people that share a passion for generating fiber garments and crafts,” Hoffman said.

Sheep and goat producers and fiber enthusiasts are invited. Pre-registration is required and available at: or . A Zoom link will be emailed to participants upon registration. Those unable attend the live session will receive the recording via email.

For additional information, please contact Brenda Miller at or Hoffman at

Source: NDSU/UMN Extension


Register Now for ALB Grazing Workshops

The rapid development of utility scale solar farms across the country has stimulated a significant need to utilize sheep grazing for vegetation management. Opportunities for sheep grazing contracts in wildfire-prone areas and vineyards are also expanding. Sheep grazing helps eliminate dried plants that might otherwise become wildfire fuel, while grazing in vineyards and other areas helps clear weeds while reducing or eliminating the need for herbicides.

These paid grazing contracts present tremendous opportunities for growing sheep flocks across the country, improving the availability and price competitiveness of American lamb, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through green energy production and biological vegetation management. These grazing opportunities offer current and emerging sheep producers the opportunity to increase their profitability and grow flock numbers.

Training is needed to ensure sheep producers are prepared to capitalize on these grazing contract opportunities.

“Improving the sustainability of the U.S. sheep industry through profitable growth is a top priority of the American Lamb Board,” says ALB Chair Jeff Ebert. “ALB is committed to ensuring new and experienced shepherds receive education and resources to become successful contract grazers.”

ALB’s grazing workshops are designed to outline new and existing opportunities through targeted grazing across the United States, including fire suppression, vineyards and solar grazing. Producers who attend these workshops will learn about the in-depth process of using sheep to provide a grazing service. From animal performance to contracts and business set-up, the goal is to provide producers with the tools necessary to be successful service providers and profitable shepherds.

The three grazing workshops in 2024 will be in:

  • Temple, Texas, May 8-10.
  • Roxboro, N.C., May 20-22
  • Fresno, Calif., Summer 2024

Attendance is limited to 50 producers and registration costs $200. For more information and to register, visit, or contact Camren Maierle at

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.

House, Senate On Track to Pass Minibus

On Sunday, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released a six-bill package of final Fiscal Year 2024 bills. This package included both the Department of Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Interior-Environmental Protection Agency bills. On Wednesday, the House made quick work of the spending package and passed H.Res.1061 by a 339-85 vote. Now, the minibus heads to the Senate floor where it is expected to vote and pass the bill sometime Friday.

Regarding USDA, the bill content includes a total of $26.3 billion in discretionary funding, which is roughly equal to the amount provided in FY 2023. The bill provides $7.03 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children Program – an increase of $1.03 billion over FY 2023 levels. This total meets the amount included in the president’s budget request, which had been a major priority for Democrats.

During the final conference on agriculture spending, an attempt was made to statutorily prohibit USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services from using M-44 coyote control devices. This issue/language was not contained in either of the House or Senate passed bills and accompanying reports.

Ranking Member Sen. John Hoeven (N.D.) opposed the bill language, language that would have then been signed into law and binding.  Due to the senator’s resistance, the language was alternately included as report language. ASI leaders and producers from state associations are in Washington, D.C., the second week of March meeting with federal and Congressional officials and plan to register strong support for USDA continuing use of this important predation control tool.  USDA and EPA updated and approved the tool in 2018 and 2019 and in the states that use the device, 16 percent of coyote control is due to the M-44.

The bill also addresses foreign farmland ownership issues by adding the secretary of agriculture to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, requiring USDA notify CFIUS on any agricultural land transfers which might pose a national threat, and increasing funding to USDA to improve its foreign farmland purchase reporting system.

The bill also included $3.5 billion in funding for FDA, which is flat levelled from FY 2023. The bill does not include a policy rider restricting the sale of the abortion drug mifepristone included in the House version of the FY 2024 USDA-FDA bill. For EPA, the bill includes $9.2 billion in funding – a $232 million decrease from FY 2023 levels. The bill text can be found here. The USDA-FDA report can be found here and the Interior-EPA report can be found here.

USDA Finalizes Inclusive Competition Rule

On Tuesday, USDA announced the finalization of the Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity Under the Packers and Stockyards Act. The final rule was posted to the Federal Register on Wednesday, making it effective 60 days following March 6.

The Inclusive Competition Rule intends to establish clearer, more effective standards under the Agricultural Marketing Service Packers and Stockyards Act with regards to prohibiting practices related to discriminating, retaliation and deception in contracting. Through this new rule, USDA outlines serval practices that would be off the table for the integrator companies doing business with growers that produce the nation’s pigs, chickens and other animals under contract with agribusinesses. You can find more information on the specific protections the new rule offers producers through a AMS fact sheet here.

EPA Launches Office of Agriculture & Rural Affairs

Last Friday at the annual Commodity Classic Convention, EPA announced it was establishing a new Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to ensure agricultural and rural perspectives are better incorporated into EPA’s work.

EPA announced that Rod Snyder will lead the new office, having previously served as the administrator’s senior advisor for agriculture. The office will coordinate with many federal and state partners, including USDA, FDA and state departments of agriculture.

EPA’s existing Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee – which provides policy recommendations to the EPA administrator on issues related to agriculture and rural communities – will also now be housed within this new office.

Agricultural Labor Working Group Report Released

On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee’s Agricultural Labor Working Group released its final report with policy recommendations addressing prominent farm labor issues. This bipartisan working group – led by Reps. Rick Crawford (Ark.) and Don Davis (N.C.) – rolled out a 23-page report that outlines various policy positions that hold varying levels of partisan support across the working group. This follows an initial interim report that was published in early November of last year.

While the Agriculture Committee does not have jurisdiction over labor policy, the report outlines detailed policy recommendations to help nudge those who do toward thoughtful and effective action. The contents of the full final report can be found on the House Agriculture Committee’s website here.


Coalition Forms to Fight De Minimis Loophole

The Coalition to Close the De Minimis Loophole launched this week, representing thousands of voices, from the families of victims of fentanyl fatalities and nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations to labor unions, domestic law enforcement associations, domestic manufacturers and business associations.

The coalition was formed to amplify the urgent need to reform a loophole in federal law known as Section 321, which allows packages valued at less than $800 to enter the U.S. without facing any taxes, fees or inspection. As a result, this cripples domestic manufacturers and workers, undermines retailers, strains law enforcement resources, and facilitates the free flow of illegal and dangerous products and illicit drugs, particularly fentanyl – the leading cause of death for people ages 18-49. The coalition is calling on Congress and the Biden Administration to immediately close this dangerous loophole.

Among its key objectives, the coalition is dedicated to increasing awareness and education around the harmful impacts of de minimis, a loophole being exploited by China and other foreign entities to facilitate a flood of fentanyl and other illicit drugs, products made with slave labor, and counterfeit and toxic consumer products into the U.S. market.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee – who has been leading an effort on Capitol Hill to reform the de minimis loophole in U.S. trade law – helped announce the formal launch of the coalition at a press conference on Wednesday.

“The coalition we have assembled is a testament to the mounting pressure to close the de minimis loophole. De minimis is not just a threat to American businesses and consumers, as if that weren’t enough, but it is increasingly contributing to the fentanyl crisis ravaging our communities. It is past time for Congress to act. We will not take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

The congressman has introduced bipartisan legislation known as the Import Security and Fairness Act, that would block non-market economies – namely China – from exploiting the de minimis threshold and would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect more information on de minimis shipments in order to better understand the scope of de minimis abuse and inform other necessary reforms.

Source: Coalition to Close the De Minimis Loophole

Skip to content