Hubbard Testifies at Farm Bill Hearing
ASI Executive Board member Laurie Hubbard of Pennsylvania testified at A Review of Animal Agriculture Stakeholder Priorities hearing before the U.S. House’s Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
What follows is the introduction of Hubbard’s written testimony.
“Price inflation, labor challenges, lamb imports and ongoing economic uncertainty are pressuring the American lamb and wool businesses. These are in turn impacting the sustainability of the sheep industry.
“According to the American Lamb Board, the Covid pandemic caused huge losses within lamb’s fundamental fine dining market but created opportunities for retail sales and at-home consumption. While consumers are buying lamb, elevated price levels have made it difficult for lamb to compete with other proteins. More product is coming from imports, usually with a significant price advantage over American lamb. The non-traditional or ethnic market – with demand for smaller carcasses – has grown and cultural preferences are creating new opportunities for our industry. The pandemic led to the loss of a major lamb processor in 2020, yet smaller processors are emerging and being embraced by a society seeking a more local supply structure. High production costs have made it more costly to get lamb to the consumer and the inflationary environment has impacted consumer’s willingness to purchase American lamb. Producer and lamb feeder profit margins have been pressured as lamb prices have not kept pace with higher input costs and feed prices.
“I would note that commercial lamb feeders have been unprofitable for 13 consecutive months.
“The American wool industry continues to endure several challenges, which are adversely impacting American wool producers. The American wool market is heavily dependent on the export market. Over the last decade, approximately 67 percent of American wool is exported, with 72 percent of those exports destined for China. The ensuing global pandemic resulted in the closure of key international markets and drastically altered consumer demand for apparel products. The Chinese trade tariffs and the lost markets for American wool drove wool prices down and large supplies of wool into storage. We have classes of wool today that bring only pennies per pound to producers and the impending closure of the Mid-States Wool Cooperative headquartered in Ohio is a major concern for Midwest and Eastern sheep producers.
“The American Sheep Industry Association strongly supports reauthorization of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill).”
In addition to a welcome by Livestock Subcommittee Chair Tracy Mann (Kan.), Hubbard responded to two questions specific to sheep from Committee Chair GT Thompson (Penn.).
Click Here to read the full written testimony.
Click Here to watch a video of the hearing.
Australian Market Falls Once Again
The Australian wool market retracted again this week, with weak buyer demand pushing prices lower for the second consecutive selling series.
Last week’s losses did not deter many sellers from the market and the national offering was only slightly lower with 42,492 bales available to the trade. The total amount offered nationally is now tracking close to last season. This year, there have been 1,652,464 bales put though the auction system – 10,376 more than the previous season for an increase of only 0.6 percent.
The Western region suffered the largest falls in the previous series and the Individual Micron Price Guides in Fremantle fell well below those posted in the Eastern centers. This series, the Eastern centers came more into line with the West, recording the largest falls for the week. The Merino MPGs in Sydney and Melbourne dropped by between 11 and 55 cents, compared to falls in the West of between 1 and 22 cents.
After recording the highest passed-in rate – 24.8 percent – in nearly two years in the previous series, less extreme price reductions meant a smaller passed-in rate this week as 15.3 percent of the national offering was passed in. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator lost 21 cents for the series, closing at 1,263 Australian cents. The EMI is now at its lowest point since December.
The carding market lacked buyer support and fell for the seventh consecutive series. The three Merino Carding indicators fell to an average of 766 cents. This is the lowest average level of the MCs since October 2020, when they were sitting at an average of 731 cents.
Despite the falls of the previous two weeks, another reasonably large sale is rostered for next week. Currently, there are 45,936 bales expected to be offered in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.
Click Here for the Full Australian Wool Market Report
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.
ASI Endorses Animal Health Legislation
Livestock producer trade groups – including the American Sheep Industry Association – offered their support this week for the Foreign Animal Disease Prevention, Surveillance and Rapid Response Act of 2023 (H.R. 3419 and S. 1666). This bipartisan and bicameral legislation would continue making critical investments in foreign animal disease response programs currently overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Funding the Animal Health Protection Act is vital to protecting the American sheep flock from the threat of foot-and-mouth disease,” said ASI President Brad Boner of Wyoming. “Investing in the programs funded by the act – such as the national vaccine bank and animal disease preparedness planning – are critical for preventing FMD from entering the United States and minimizing the impacts on the American sheep industry if an FMD outbreak were to happen.”
The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), John Cornyn (Texas), and Joni Ernst (Iowa) and in the House by Reps. Ronny Jackson (Texas), Angie Craig (Minn.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Don Bacon (Neb.) and Don Davis (N.C.).
USDA Offers Preview of Natural Disaster Assistance
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced plans to roll out $3.7 billion in Emergency Relief Program and Emergency Livestock Relief Program assistance to crop and livestock producers who sustained losses due to a qualifying natural disaster event in calendar year 2022.
USDA is sharing early information to allow producers time to gather documents in advance of program delivery. Through distribution of remaining funds, USDA is also concluding the 2021 ELRP program by sending payments in the amount of 20 percent of the initial ELRP payment to all existing recipients.
“U.S. agricultural producers nationwide endured crippling natural disaster events in 2022 including a megadrought, Hurricane Ian, epic flooding and catastrophic wildfires. To say these events were costly is an understatement,” Vilsack said. “Last year, USDA streamlined the delivery of natural disaster assistance, speeding up the timing of payments and cutting the time spent on paperwork by 90 percent or one million hours relative to previous disaster programs. While we will use the same streamlined approaches, funding is limited and significantly less than the estimated losses. We are designing payment factors that ensure the fair, equitable and efficient delivery of program benefits to help as many producers as possible offset the significant financial impacts resulting from these ongoing and widespread natural disasters.”
For impacted ranchers, USDA intends to leverage FSA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program data to deliver ELRP assistance for increases in supplemental feed costs in 2022.
To be eligible for an ELRP payment for 2022 losses, livestock producers will need to have suffered grazing losses from wildfire or in a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D2 (severe drought) for eight consecutive weeks or a D3 (extreme drought) or higher level of drought intensity during the 2022 calendar year and have applied and been approved for 2022 LFP. Additionally, otherwise eligible producers whose permitted grazing on federally managed lands was disallowed due to wildfire will also be eligible for ELRP payments if they applied and were approved for 2022 LFP.
In a continued effort to streamline and simplify the delivery of ELRP benefits, eligible producers will not be required to apply for payment. Meanwhile, FSA also intends to provide additional assistance to ranchers for qualifying livestock losses from drought and wildfire in 2021. More information will be announced in the coming months.
Click Here for more information.
New ALB Brochure Available for Summer
Home Grown Flavor is a new recipe brochure presented by the American Lamb Board just in time to promote American lamb at summer fairs and festivals. The checkoff-funded brochure is an all-in-one economical piece with recipes, cooking recommendations and nutrition information to save costs when the industry needs large quantities for fairs and festivals.
ALB will provide up to 250 complimentary copies of the booklet and 25 complimentary copies of any other supporting material, such as stickers and tattoos.
The brochure features favorite recipes from ALB’s group of food influencers. From kabobs to pasta to lamb chops, these recipes provide full flavor for fans of lamb. Zesty Italian Herb Grilled American Lamb Kabobs are perfect for summer grilling. Baked Feta Pasta with American Lamb & Calabrian Chiles features ground lamb for a fast and easy dinner. Pan-Seared American Lamb Loin Chops get a fresh zest with Mint Chimichurri.
In addition to appetizing recipes, nutrition information and culinary tips are included alongside supporting sustainability messages for American lamb producers.
“We are excited to share these delicious home grown recipes and remind consumers about the role sheep have in supporting sustainability,” said ALB Chairman Peter Camino of Buffalo, Wyo.
Funded through the national American Lamb Checkoff, ALB invests the industry’s valuable resources to foster profitability and create opportunities for all sectors involved in producing American lamb. All segments of the American lamb industry contribute to building the demand for American lamb through mandatory checkoff payments. Unlike other U.S. livestock checkoffs, funding is only collected from domestic lamb, not imported lamb. This allows ALB to focus all its efforts on increasing demand for American lamb.
More information about ALB and the American Lamb Checkoff is available at LambResourceCenter.com.
Maryland Festival Merchandise Still Available
Due to the overwhelming popularity of its 50th anniversary items, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is now accepting orders for a second printing of select items.
The order period will run until close of business on Wednesday, at which time orders will be sent off to the screen printing company. The delivery time will run two to four weeks from that point. These second printing items are limited to the large boat tote bag and a short-sleeve T-shirt in Moss green. All sales on this second printing will be final (no returns or exchanges).
There is also a small quantity of already-printed items available on a first-come, first-served basis until supplies are exhausted. These are the same items that were available online prior to the festival and were also sold at the festival.
Pickup at Sheepman Supply in Frederick, Md., is available. Put “Store Pick Up” in special instructions when you check out and you won’t be charged the shipping.
Click Here to order merchandise.
Source: Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival
Grad Student Needs Lamb Sausage Recipes
North Dakota State University Graduate Research Assistant Matthew Chaney is in search of lamb sausage recipes as part of his master’s graduate program.
“My project – Exploring Lamb Sausage Marketability – will be compiling a broad spectrum of unique and groundbreaking recipes to provide lamb producers with an ability to capitalize on an untapped revenue opportunity for their processed lambs,” Chaney said. “We look forward to sharing ideas on products that will be mutually beneficial for adding value to lamb and lamb trim, that consumers can enjoy and/or potentially find ways for producers to market directly for their operations. With your help and through the collaboration of other ASI members across the country, we will be better able to formulate recipes, gather sample data, as well as relate to the general public’s inputs on ground lamb products. Please forward to area producers, processors and chefs that may be willing to add to our lamb recipe compilation.”
Recipes can be sent to Chaney at Matthew.T.Chaney@ndsu.edu or by mail at 1106 Eaglewood Ave., West Fargo, ND 58078, preferably by May 31.
Ag Calls for Support of Beagle Brigade
The American Sheep Industry Association signed on this week to a letter of support for passing a bill authorizing the National Detector Dog Training Center. The center is the primary training facility for the “Beagle Brigade,” which helps protect America’s natural resources and agriculture producers from foreign animal and plant diseases and pests.
“The Agriculture Canine Teams of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) perform critically important agricultural inspections at the nation’s ports of entry,” read a letter to leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House. “These teams play a vital role in trade and travel safety, and work every day to prevent the introduction of harmful foreign animal and plant diseases and pests into the U.S. The introduction of foreign animal diseases, such as Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever, or virulent Newcastle Disease, or plant diseases, such as maize lethal necrosis or citrus greening disease, would have a devastating impact on U.S. agricultural producers, their communities, and the economy if introduced into the U.S.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture trains these dogs and their CBP handlers at the National Detector Dog Training Center in Newnan, Georgia. These specially trained teams are utilized by CBP to sniff out potentially contaminated products at U.S ports of entry, and prevent their introduction into the U.S. The Center also oversees the private adoption of retirement-age trained dogs and dogs that do not complete training. Congress has consistently supported this work, including through the passage of the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019, which authorized the training of additional canine teams. The Beagle Brigade Act would provide specific authorization for this highly successful training center and lay the groundwork for its continued success in the future. It would also require a report from USDA on current and emerging threats to domestic agriculture and natural resources and improvements that could be made through the Center to minimize these threats.”