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USDA Provides $50 Million for Wool & Cotton Manufacturers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday a commitment of $50 million to assist eligible apparel manufacturers of worsted wool suits, sport coats, pants and Pima cotton dress shirts, as well as wool fabric manufacturers, wool spinners and Pima cotton spinners. The new Cotton and Wool Apparel program is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative and the department’s efforts to help American food, agriculture and forestry sectors get back on track and plan for the future.

“The American Sheep Industry Association strongly supports the Cotton and Wool Apparel program,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “Ongoing communication with wool processors, spinners and weavers has made it clear that the pandemic resulted in a sizeable decline in the sale of wool products, and sales have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. That decline has been devastating to American manufacturers, and the extreme difficulty in finding and keeping skilled labor has exacerbated the situation.”

USDA stepped in to assist America’s lamb and wool producers in the wake of historic losses at the farm and ranch gate in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s only fitting that assistance is now reaching end users of American wool.

“The transition toward remote work at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a dramatic decrease in consumer demand for dress clothing, which has continued to affect the entire supply chain of Pima cotton and wool,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “While many manufacturers of these products shifted to the production of personal protective equipment, the industry has nevertheless struggled to recover from a persistent and significant decline in sales.

“The relief announced today will help keep these manufacturers in business, which will ultimately support American workers and the domestic Pima cotton growers and wool producers who rely on this industry.”

CAWA will support eligible entities who experienced a decrease of at least 15 percent in 2020 gross sales or consumption of eligible products compared to the applicant’s gross sales in any of calendar years 2017, 2018 or 2019. Payments to eligible entities will be based on their pre-pandemic market share. Additionally, eligible entities must have filed an affidavit for a payment in any year from 2017 to 2021 for the Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund or Agriculture Wool Apparel Manufacturers Trust Fund through USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service.

USDA’s FSA national office is administering the direct payments, which will be funded by the Commodity Credit Corporation. More information is available in the Notice of Funding Availability on the Federal Register.


Commercial Wool Lab Open for Business

The Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory will begin accepting commercial core samples for testing on Monday – a little more than two years after the American Sheep Industry Association led a coalition of industry groups to invest in expanding the historic lab at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo, Texas.

“Initially, we project 25 samples per week can be processed from intake to report. We set this conservative benchmark as a balance between servicing the industry this season and not overextending as a new lab (and thus not being able to meet our turnaround time),” wrote Dr. Dawn Brown, manager of the lab, in a recent email to industry stakeholders. “We recognize our start-up will be smaller in scale than everyone hoped. We are confident in our capability and have a plan in place to ramp up our capacity.”

ASI’s for-profit Sheep Venture Company and the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center committed grant money toward the purchase of equipment from overseas. ASI contributed Wool Trust funds toward the expansion of the 100-year-old lab, which also received a significant investment from Texas A&M University. The lab’s online client portal is operational and domestic wool warehouses have been provided with registration information.

The New Zealand Wool Testing Authority has handled much of the commercial testing of American wool in the past two years after the closure of Denver-based Yocom-McColl Testing Laboratories.


Webinar to Address Parasite Management

Integrated Parasite Management Strategies for Sheep Producers is the topic for the next American Sheep Industry Association-sponsored webinar. Dr. Andrew Weaver of North Carolina State University will lead the webinar on May 24 at 8 p.m. eastern time.

“Parasites continue to be a significant challenge for sheep production across the country. The failure of dewormers to adequately treat parasite infections has resulted in the need for alternative parasite management strategies. Unfortunately, there is no single cure. Rather, an integrated approach is needed where multiple strategies are implemented for effective parasite control,” reads the webinar description.

“These strategies can include environment-based approaches as well as animal-based approaches. In this webinar, parasite biology and host-parasite interactions will be highlighted to provide context for parasite management. Discussion will follow on various parasite management strategies available and how they can be implemented in a sheep production system. A multifaceted approach to parasite management will be most successful in mitigating infection levels and improving sheep performance and well-being.”

Click Here to register for the free webinar.


Sec. Vilsack Addresses Appropriations Subcommittee

The U.S. House and Senate have been working to complete the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bills. Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies held a hearing with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget request.

Members emphasized the global food shortages and rising energy and input costs. There was significant discussion around the cost of fertilizer and the impact it is having on planting decisions, farmers’ income and food prices. Sec. Vilsack reminded committee members about the $250 million USDA announced to support sustainable fertilizer production and lower costs.

Sec. Vilsack also told members that USDA’s budget request includes funding to help address America’s reliance on Chinese exports and that they will continue to diversify import markets and reduce market access barriers to new export countries.

While Congress is working on the FY 2023 appropriations process, a continuing resolution is still expected before the end of the fiscal year.

Source: Cornerstone Government Affairs


Australian Wool Market Continues to Rise

The Australian wool market recorded another overall increase this series, again driven by strong demand for good and best style, low vegetable matter (less than 1.5 percent) Merino fleece types.

There were 40,153 bales offered nationally – 8,599 fewer bales than last week. Auction numbers continue to climb well above the previous season. There have been 1,556,460 bales offered so far this year – 151,128 more than the 2020-21 season – an increase of 10.8 percent. Despite reporting ongoing concerns about shipment difficulties, buyer sentiment was very positive from the outset, continuing unabated until the final lot of the series.

As mentioned earlier, it was strong demand for good style, low vegetable matter Merino fleece types that was the driving factor in the increases in the individual Micron Price Guides. Across the country, the Merino fleece MPGs rose by between 7 and 57 cents. These increases – combined with rises in the skirting, crossbred and oddment sectors – pushed the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator up by 24 cents for the series. The EMI closed the week at 1,401 Australian cents. This 24-cent lift was the largest weekly rise in the EMI since the beginning of February, when the EMI gained 42 cents for the week.

The EMI is 82 cents higher than the same time last year – an increase of 6.2 percent during this period. As the EMI has consistently tracked above the levels of last year – combined with the increased auction throughput – the total dollar amount sold at auction for this season is well above the corresponding sale of last year. Year to date there has been $2,172.23 million worth of wool sold at auction, compared to $1,765.90 million in the 2020-21 season, an increase of $406.33 million.

Next week, the national offering increases as 42,779 bales are currently expected to be offered in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.

Source: AWEX


ALB Releases Latest Lamb Quality Video

The American Lamb Board continues its Beginning with the End in Mind Lamb Quality video series with USDA Lamb Yield Grading.

The series – sponsored by ALB and Premier 1 Supplies – is designed to help producers maximize operational efficiency and productivity while giving consumers a consistent quality eating experience.

“As sheep producers, we are tasked to provide enjoyable eating experiences and meet palatability expectations for the dinner plate of American lamb consumers,” says Peter Camino, ALB chair from Buffalo, Wyo.

This fourth video of the series explains how inspectors use fat measurements and visual assessments of shape and fat disposition in the USDA Yield Grading process. USDA Yield Grade can determine the cutability of a carcass. Yield Grade 1 – the highest grade – results in approximately 50 percent retail cuts. Yield Grade 5 – the lowest grade – produces around 45 percent retail cuts.

The video also explores live evaluation and the connection to carcass yield grade to help producers market lambs at a desirable yield grade category.

“If we make lambs with more muscle and less fat, we have improved yield and value,” says the video. “The amount of salable meat yield from a lamb and the subsequent carcass should be a priority for sheep producers and processors and inevitably result in a consistent premium product for lamb consumers.”

Muscle and fat thicknesses differ across a variety of breed compositions. An emphasis on lean meat growth and the ability to use USDA Yield Grade to consistently identify cutability means producers can raise the breed that fits their system and operational goals and provide the consumer with a variety of end products.

Furthermore, applying premiums and discounts to USDA Carcass Yield Grades meets the Lamb Industry Road Map’s objective to adopt consumer-driven, value-based pricing for slaughter lambs.

Click Here for the newest video. All videos can be found at

Source: ALB


Cheyenne to Host National Columbia Show & Sale

Cheyenne, Wyo., and the Event Center at Archer will host the National Columbia Show & Sale on June 6-11. The Columbia Sheep Breeders Association is sponsoring the event and rolling out the red carpet for the approximately 200 sheep enthusiasts traveling to Cheyenne.

Columbia sheep are a large, dual-purpose breed. They are known for their superb mothering and milking ability, as well as for producing a heavy, medium fleece with a long staple length which is highly sought after by textile manufacturers. Columbia wool is easily blended with other materials and is also desired by spinners and fiber artists. This year will also feature the second annual online Fleece Sale, where wool and fiber enthusiasts can buy top fleeces from Columbia breeders across the county.

Activities begin on June 8 with the Junior Fitting Contest and the National Wool Show. The Open Show is featured on June 10 with the National Sale the following day. The Juniors have their own show as do Production Sheep and Natural Colored Columbias.

The public is invited to attend and see the events. Interested buyers can visit to request a sale catalog or call the Columbia Sheep Office at 507-360-4243.

The Junior Fitting Contest, Wool Show, Junior Show, Production Show, Natural Colored Show, Futurity Comeback Show, Open Show and National Sale will be available on Facebook Live.

Source: Columbia Sheep Breeders Association


USDA Proposes Packers & Stockyards Act Revisions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a notice in the Federal Register this week proposing revisions to regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act. These revisions implement the Livestock Dealer Statutory Trust, which provides financial protection for cash sellers of livestock.

Congress amended the act in late 2020, providing for a statutory trust covering livestock purchases by dealers. Dealers whose average annual livestock purchases exceed $100,000 are required to hold all livestock purchased, and if livestock has been resold, the receivables or proceeds from such sale, in trust for the benefit of all unpaid cash sellers of livestock until full payment has been received by those sellers. The proposed regulations would add procedures and timeframes for a livestock seller to notify the livestock dealer and the Secretary of Agriculture that the seller has not received full payment for livestock purchased by the dealer and that the seller intends to preserve their trust interests.

In addition, under the proposal, livestock dealers would be required to obtain written acknowledgement from livestock sellers that trust benefits do not pertain to credit sales and would be required to maintain records related to credit sales.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service – which administers and enforces the act through its Packers and Stockyards Division – invites interested stakeholders and the public in general to review and comment on the proposed rule. Comments will be accepted at until June 6, on the proposed rule and until July 5, on the information collection burden.

Source: USDA


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