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ASI Receives RAPP Funding

It was announced this week the American Sheep Industry Association’s application warrants $1.2 million in Regional Agricultural Promotion Program funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The funds are designated for marketing American wool in diversified high-potential markets around the globe during the next five years.

The new RAPP program was announced in November 2023 and this week awarded approximately $300 million to agricultural groups to facilitate the development of new trade markets. It is one of several FAS programs – including the Foreign Market Development Program, the Market Access Program and the Quality Samples Program – that ASI uses to support American wool marketing internationally.

“We’re very thankful to the Foreign Ag Service for providing these valuable programs that assist ASI to market American wool to overseas wool companies,” said ASI Director of Wool Marketing Rita Samuelson. “There was a time when American wool producers could sell all of their wool clip to United States-based textile companies, but the loss of domestic wool mills in the 1990s required our industry to pivot. Prior to that time, we didn’t export much wool, but now we export approximately 60 percent of all domestic wool that we produce.”

RAPP funds must be used in new and emerging markets, which in the case of American wool will include India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and South America.

The new funding will allow ASI to continue in its traditional role as “matchmaker” between foreign manufacturers and American wool warehouses. Trade missions, reverse trade missions and digital marketing will all be key aspects of ASI’s RAPP spending. These are key components of all of ASI’s FAS program spending.

Click Here to learn more about RAPP.


Industry Applauds Proposed Farm Bill Text

The proposed Farm Bill text released by House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (Penn.) last week addresses critical needs of the American sheep industry, earning praise from industry leaders. Many of the areas addressed in the proposed legislation mirror specific requests of ASI and producers who participated during the 2024 ASI Spring Trip to Washington, D.C., in mid-March.

“This text from the House Ag chair provides real support to our sheep producers,” said American Sheep Industry Association President Brad Boner of Wyoming. “The text is very favorable toward the sheep industry in areas such as foreign animal disease management, drought and feed losses, foreign market development programs – which we are heavily reliant on for marketing American wool – as well as the wool marketing loan. The wool marketing loan is the only sheep-specific risk management tool that is available to American wool growers, so it’s important that the program can respond to the current wool market.”

The Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024 proposes to:

  • Substantially increase the existing marketing loan rate for American wool, which has not been adjusted since 2002.
  • Increase funding for the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program, which is connected to funding for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center and its grant programs.
  • Double funding for foreign market programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. These programs include the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, both of which provide support for marketing American wool to manufacturers overseas.
  • Direct additional resources toward bolstering the three-legged stool to protect American livestock against foreign animal diseases.
  • Establish a permanent baseline for a new Agricultural Fiber Products Trust Fund, which includes additional funding for wool apparel manufacturers and wool research and promotion.

ASI appreciates the chairman’s efforts and investments made in the sheep industry in this Farm Bill proposal and welcomes forward progress in the process of getting a Farm Bill passed and signed into law.

ASI also signed on to a letter this week to Thompson from more than two dozen agricultural trade groups to express appreciation for his efforts on the Farm Bill.

Click Here for the full text of the proposal from Chairman Thompson.


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 Ag Passes Farm Bill out of Committee

On Thursday, the House Agriculture Committee held a full committee markup of H.R. 8467 – The Farm, Food and National Security Act of 2024. After nearly a 13-hour markup, the Farm Bill was ultimately passed out of committee as amended and was reported favorably to the House floor by a 33-21 vote.

Joining Chairman Glenn “GT” Thomspon (Penn.) and his Republican colleagues in support of the bill were Democratic Reps. Yadira Caraveo (Colo.), Eric Sorensen (Ill.), Don Davis (N.C.) and Sanford Bishop (Ga.). The rest of the Democrats on the committee – including Ranking Member David Scott (Ga.) – voted against the bill’s passage. While both parties articulated the importance of passing a bipartisan Farm Bill, partisan priorities tended to dominate the discussion.

Republicans praised the bill’s robust investments made into the farm safety net and its intent to strengthen all sectors of the nation’s agricultural value chain and ability to respond to the needs of farmers, ranchers and American families. Democrats expressed reservations regarding the bill’s “pay-for” referencing the proposed Thrifty Food Plan update in the nutrition title, limitations placed on the Secretary of Agriculture’s ability to use discretionary funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation, and the reinvestment of the Inflation Reduction Act into the conservation title and the scaling back of climate-smart guardrails.

The wool industry got a special call out during Rep. John Rose’s (Tenn.) opening remarks, where he applauded the inclusion of baseline and increased funding for a new Agricultural Fiber Products Trust Fund, which greatly benefits wool apparel manufacturers and general wool promotion and research.

Now, the Farm Bill heads to the floor where House Republican leadership has not yet indicated any plans to consider the bill in the coming weeks or even months, and the Senate has yet to release any bill text or plans to markup a Senate version. Regardless, forward progress on the Farm Bill can still be considered a win for the agriculture industry and marks one step closer to the finish line.


Deadline Approaching for SHF Scholarship

College students have just one week left to submit applications for the Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship. The deadline to apply is May 31, and the winner will be announced this summer.

The $3,000 scholarship will be awarded to a 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 United States citizens and include two letters of reference with their application.

Click Here for more information.


CSU Issues Report on Possible Plant Closure

The Regional Economic Development Institute at Colorado State University (REDI@CSU) just published a report outlining the far-reaching economic implications of the Denver slaughterhouse ban that has already qualified for the November ballot.

If passed, it would shut down the Superior Farms lamb processing plant in the city. Closing the plant would mean the loss of 15 to 20 percent of the country’s lamb harvest capacity.

“The CSU study underscores how the Denver ballot measure ban is unfair, ineffective and simply the wrong approach. Eliminating a local food source not only eliminates over $800 million in economic activity, it also hurts the environment by forcing restaurants and grocery stores to import lamb products from overseas while unnecessarily driving up food costs for consumers,” said Colorado Wool Growers Association Executive Director Bonnie Brown.

“Banning a single Denver business won’t improve animal welfare in Colorado. But it will eliminate hundreds of jobs. This study shows that the ban not only eliminates 170 jobs at the employee-owned plant in Denver, but it also threatens thousands of other related jobs across the state,” said Zach Riley of the Colorado Livestock Association.

Click Here for more information and to download the full report.

Click Here to learn more about Superior Farms’ Stop the Ban campaign.


Ag Groups Support Section 12007 in Farm Bill

Hundreds of agricultural associations – including the American Sheep Industry Association and many of its state affiliates – signed on to a letter this week in support of Section 12007 in the proposed Farm Bill text released last week by House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (Penn.).

“The undersigned organizations representing the country’s farmers, ranchers, and partners write in strong support of Section 12007 of the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024, which provides much needed certainty in farm country. California’s Proposition 12 – and the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross – are causing turmoil in agricultural markets and having significant detrimental impacts on our members’ farms and ranches, especially small and medium-sized farms, as explained below. We strongly urge Congress to include this critical provision in any farm bill reauthorization to prevent an unworkable patchwork of 50 conflicting state laws throughout the country that snarl interstate commerce,” read the letter to Thompson and Ranking Member David Scott (Ga.).

“Proposition 12, a 2018 California ballot measure, prohibits the sale of pork, veal, and eggs produced from animals not housed according to the state’s arbitrary requirements. In May 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only Congress has the authority to step in and protect American agriculture from regulatory chaos posed by laws such as Proposition 12.

“In his recent testimony before the House Agriculture Committee, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, ‘if we don’t take this issue [Proposition 12] seriously, we’re going to have chaos in the marketplace.’ Further reiterating to the Senate Agriculture Committee, Vilsack said, ‘if it [Congress] doesn’t figure this out, there is going to be chaos.’ He emphasized that ‘farmers do not need the chaos, they need clarity and certainty.’ Our organizations could not agree more.

“Without immediate congressional action, agriculture is at risk of arbitrary and conflicting state laws across all 50 states, on any myriad of issues. This will most severely harm small and medium-sized farms by imposing massive compliance costs and forcing significant consolidation throughout agriculture.

“Proposition 12 may be more financially attainable for large, cost-advantaged farms who benefit from higher profit margins, more favorable lending terms, and economies of scale. With states free to impose their own requirements on out-of-state producers, high compliance costs and the risk of ever-changing regulations will force many small farms to decide between exiting the business or entering into a production contract, resulting in fewer, larger farms owning a greater portion of sows in the U.S.”


Australian Wool Market Sees Marginal Fall

The Australian wool market fell again this series, although the reduction was marginal and there were positive movements within certain pockets of the market. The national offering rose slightly as there were 35,518 bales on offer. That total was down from projections after 6.1 percent of the offering was withdrawn prior to sale.

In the Merino fleece, the market movements were varied. The individual Micron Price Guides in this sector ranged between plus 4 and minus 29 cents. Mixed results in the oddments, skirtings and crossbreds had the net result of a 5-cent fall in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator for the series.

The stagnant nature of the market for the 2024 calendar year is best highlighted when looking at the average daily movements of the EMI, with both positive and negative movements combined. There have been 44 selling days, calendar year to date. When the positive and negative movements are combined, there have been a total of 236 cents of movements for a daily average of just 5.4 cents per day.

Although the daily market movements have been small, the market is trending lower. The EMI opened the 2024 calendar year at 1,212 cents and the EMI is now trading at 1,130 Australian cents – a fall of 82 cents for a 6.8-percent reduction. That said, the EMI is now sitting marginally higher than the beginning of the season. The EMI opened the 2023-24 season (beginning of July 2023) at 1,126 cents. Interestingly, year-on-year comparison is almost identical to the start of the calendar year. At the corresponding sale last year, the EMI was 1,214 cents.

Next week’s offering is forecast to fall below 35,000 bales. There are currently 33,164 bales expected to be on offer in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle. Even if this full quantity is realized, it will be the smallest sale since January.

Click Here for the ASI Conversion Table – AWEX Prices to USD Per Pound.

Source: AWEX


Reps Look to Overturn Biden ESA Rules

Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Reps. Harriet Hageman (Wyo.) and John Duarte (Calif.) introduced Congressional Review Act resolutions on Thursday to overturn the Biden Administration’s recent rule updates to the Endangered Species Act. These changes from the current administration reverse critical reforms to the ESA implemented during previous administrations.

“The Biden Administration’s ESA rule reversals were a political handout to extreme environmentalists at the expense of better species management and private landowners,” said Newhouse. “Rather than egregious rule changes that will add to the federal bureaucracy while creating hardships for rural communities, the ESA needs common sense reforms to make the law work better for both species and landowners alike. I’m proud to introduce legislation to reverse these rules alongside Western Caucus members to stop the Biden Administration’s continued weaponization of the ESA.”

“Two things are needed in order to adequately recover and manage endangered species across the United States: greater transparency and less federal bureaucracy,” said Hageman. “Yet once again these latest rules from the Biden Administration accomplish the exact opposite, handicapping local and state management agencies in the process. By reinstituting blanket protections on non-endangered species, mandating needless critical habitat designations with no justification, and ignoring the economic impact of such designations, the individuals on the ground actually conducting species management are prevented from ensuring the flourishing of ecosystems as a whole. These rules take species conservation in the wrong direction and punish our landowners; as such I’ve introduced these CRA resolutions to prevent these ill-designed rules from taking effect.”

“The Biden Administration has unfortunately continued to expand regulations on the Endangered Species Act, while ignoring science and factual evidence of species restoration. These recent rules by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service show that the Biden Administration is choosing to overregulate rather than conserve and protect endangered species with common sense practices,” said Duarte. “I am proud to lead legislation that seeks to rein in the Biden Administration’s overreach.”

Full text of the CRA introduced by Newhouse to overturn the Biden Administration’s “blanket rule” can be found here. Full text of the CRAs introduced by Hageman to strike down Biden’s Endangered Species Act Critical Habitat rules can be found here and here. Full Text of the CRAs introduced by Duarte to strike down Biden’s Endangered Species Act Interagency Cooperation rules can be found here and here.

Source: Western Caucus


ALB Provides Valuable Market Insights

The American Lamb Board collaborates with key organizations to provide lamb producers with current market information for lamb producers. The American Sheep Industry Association’s monthly report – a product of this collaboration – highlights lamb supply, trends, pricing and more.

Additionally, ALB’s partnership with Midan Marketing – a meat marketing agency – has led to the development of quarterly lamb sales reports based on a thorough analysis of retail scanner data. These reports are valuable for tracking the lamb market and sales trends, ensuring that lamb producers are well-informed and supported.

The Midan retail sales report – a reliable source of market insights – includes sales by cut and region. The retail scanner data – which covers approximately 85 percent of total U.S. retail sales – provides a comprehensive view of the market. The lamb data is for all lamb sales, including imports. Recently, data has been added to show specific sales of American lamb, further enhancing the accuracy and relevance of the insights provided.

ALB identified the retailers known to carry American lamb, and Midan now reports their sales as aggregate information to get a glimpse of American lamb sales. While it is not a complete data set of all American lamb retail sales, it does include the two largest retail accounts.

The fourth quarter 2023 retail report showed that lamb volume sales were trending below 2022 levels for much of the year. However, a significant shift occurred in the fourth quarter of last year, with volume sales climbing 5.7 percent (compared to Q4 2022). This was primarily attributed to increased holiday sales. The study found that Americans purchased more pounds of lamb for Thanksgiving last year, and Christmas purchases were on track with 2022 sales.

The study also brings promising news, revealing a significant growth in the sale of ground lamb. Despite a 2.1-percent dip in the total lamb volume in 2023 compared to 2022, dollar sales of ground lamb grew 3.9 percent last year, and volume sales rose 8.4 percent during the same period.

“While these reports highlight challenges and successes across the industry, there is much to be encouraged about,” says ALB Chair Jeff Ebert. “Despite an overall dip in sales, it’s encouraging to see young consumers choosing American lamb. I’m even more encouraged that they not only choose lamb for holiday celebrations but also seek out ground lamb for easy week-night dinner options.”

To better understand the lamb market and sales information, request the full reports from the American Lamb Board. These reports can be obtained by emailing or visiting the website.

Source: ALB


Video of the Week

If you missed this week’s webinar on identification requirements under the National Scrapie Eradication Program, you can catch it anytime on demand on the American Sheep Industry Association’s YouTube page.

Click Here to watch the webinar.

Click Here for the webinar slides.


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