Editor’s Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the American Sheep Industry Association office will be closed on Nov. 23-24, and there will be no ASI Weekly next week.
Group Studying Lamb Insurance Program
Watts and Associates has announced four listening sessions in which the company will solicit input on a potential federal lamb insurance program. The company has been contracted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency to evaluate the feasibility of offering subsidized production insurance for American lamb producers.
Three in-person listening sessions are planned: Dec. 7 in Belle Fourche, S.D.; Dec. 9 in San Angelo, Texas; and during the American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention in Denver as the group has been invited to participate in the Lamb Council meeting on Jan. 12. A virtual session might also be conducted, but details for such a session have yet to be determined.
The form this insurance might take – if it is indeed feasible to implement – has not been determined. The company is interested in soliciting input from all facets of the American sheep industry to determine if the insurance might cover predation losses, disease, cost of gain, margins, rate of gain, price fluctuations or more. The results and recommendations from the study will be submitted to RMA and the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for consideration.
Click Here to register to receive more information about the listening sessions.
ASI Offers Shearing Grants Once Again
Continuing a program that has proven successful in recent years, the American Sheep Industry Association will once again offer grants to developing shearers. Experienced shearers are also eligible to apply for mentoring grants.
Due to the growing demand for shearers in the United States, the ASI Wool Council has chosen to continue offering the grant program to develop new American shearers. The program will help support developing shearers with a $1,500 grant – $500 up front and $1,000 when they’ve completed program requirements – as they increase the quality of their shearing and their ability to shear additional sheep per day, thus working to build their income and longevity in the industry.
Mentor shearers can apply for a $1,500 grant – payable once program requirements have been met – to incentivize their ability to assist up-and-coming shearers involved in the grant.
Applications are due by Jan. 1, 2024.
Convention Grow Tour Canceled
The Seed and Smith Grow Tour that was planned during the 2024 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention has been cancelled due to a lack of registration.
However, openings remain on the Industry Tour that will visit the Superior Farms processing facility and Harper Feeders. That tour will also take a look at how both facilities have implemented ASI’s Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan. Additional openings remain on the Historic Golden Tour, as well.
Click Here to register for the ASI Annual Convention, as well as tours, additional ticketed events and for hotel registration.
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.
Congress Passes Funding Stopgap With Farm Bill Extension
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate cleared the House of Representatives-passed Continuing Resolution to extend government funding beyond today, averting a potential shutdown. This comes after the bill passed in the House on suspension with a vote of 336-95 the day before, with the Yeas split 209 Democrats and 127 Republicans. The House “laddered” CR spearheaded by Speaker Mike Johnson (La.) sets two funding deadlines for different parts of the government: Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, 2024.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funded through Jan. 19. In addition, the bill extends the 2018 Farm Bill until Sept. 30, 2024 – one year from when it originally expired. The House bill also accounts for the Farm Bill programs without baseline, often referred to as “orphan programs,” by providing them with one additional year of funding (equal to one-fifth of the funding provided for each program in the 2018 five-year Farm Bill). Important orphan programs for the sheep industry include the Wool Apparel Manufacturers Trust Fund, the Wool Research, Development, and Promotion Trust Fund, and the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program.
To offset the cost of additional spending for these programs, the bill rescinds $177 million in unobligated funds from the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program. Leading up to the passage of the new CR, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (Penn.) and Ranking Member David Scott (Ga.) and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Ranking Member John Boozman (Ark.) released a joint press release noting how they were able to reach an agreement on extension terms, but that they remain committed to completing a five-year Farm Bill next year.
Click Here for the text of the passed continuing resolution.
Australian Wool Market Posts Solid Rise
The Australian wool market rose significantly this week during both selling days. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator closed the week 23 cents higher at 1,151 Australian cents – its highest level in three months.
The majority of the rises were recorded on the first day when individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece gained between 10 and 41 cents across the country. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator added 19 cents for the day, which was the largest single-day rise since July. The gain in the EMI was driven by Merino fleece types while a softer crossbred market prevented the EMI from posting an even larger rise.
Foreign exchange rates were dominated on Tuesday night by U.S. CPI data, which pushed the Australian dollar through the U.S. 65-cent level. A strengthening dollar can put pressure on the market as exporter purchases become more expensive in U.S. dollar terms.
While the market did open up hesitantly on Wednesday, it gathered momentum during the course of the day and added another 4 cents to the AWEX-EMI. At the close of the week, Merino fleece types were generally 30 to 50 cents higher. Merino skirtings followed a similar trend with solid gains in the finer microns. Crossbreds and Carding types tracked sideways, closing at little change for the week.
Next week’s offering is forecast to increase to just under 46,000 bales for Melbourne, Fremantle and Sydney combined.
Click Here for the Australian Wool Report Prices in USc Per Pound.
Livestock Groups Oppose New Grizzly Population
The American Sheep Industry Association joined a coalition of livestock organizations this week in asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to establish a nonessential experimental population of grizzly bears in the North Cascade ecosystem in Washington State. The Washington State Sheep Producers signed on to the letter, as well.
“The establishment of a nonessential experimental population in the NCE is not necessary to achieve durable conservation of the species. With all the progress being made species-wide and nationwide, and the increasing pressure from Congress to delist the grizzly bear altogether, establishing another pocket of genetically indistinct bears will only jeopardize future science-based efforts to delist,” read the letter to USFS Director Martha Williams.
“Today, there are well over 1,000 bears in the Great Yellowstone Ecosystem. In the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, there are more than 1,100. These populations are thriving, and it is difficult to see the value in establishing a population that will – by necessity – add little to no genetic diversity and hybrid vigor to the species nationwide. The service’s target of reaching 200 to 400 bears in the NCE population feels particularly arbitrary given that no bears are currently recorded living in the NCE, and we do not have accurate historical records of how many bears were there hundreds of years ago before the explosion of human settlement in the West.
“This proposed rule seeks to establish another population in another recovery zone, but does not clearly state how that will get us any closer to the delisting of the grizzly bear. Livestock producers are justifiably wary of this approach, since the gray wolf population has grown year over year and the service (notwithstanding their efforts to comply with court orders) has shown little urgency to delist the fully recovered species. Producers fear that grizzly bears will go the same; the service will just grow and grow the nationwide population, forcing these animals closer and closer to humans and livestock, without showing any serious intention to delist the species.”
Click Here to read the full letter.
MSU Plans Birth Management Course
The Michigan State University Small Ruminant Team will host its annual birth management course from Jan. 3-27, 2024. The course will consist of four online sessions on Wednesday evenings from 7-9 p.m. eastern time, plus there is an optional in-person workshop on Saturday, Jan. 27, from 1- 4 p.m. at the MSU Sheep Teaching and Research Center. Sessions will be recorded, so registrants do not need to attend them live.
Topics will include: nutritional management, use of ultrasound, facility design, newborn care, hypothermia treatment, grafting, vaccination protocols, mortality diagnoses, health and feeding program assessment.
Registration is $40/farm or family until Dec. 20. It includes a 40+ page manual, a laminated lamb hypothermia/starvation treatment poster and access to all recorded sessions. These materials will be mailed after the first session and are supplementary – they are not necessary to have during the course. Additional members of the same farm/family may receive additional manuals and posters for $20 per set. Late registration starts Dec. 21, and is $60/farm.
You may register for the Saturday workshop when registering for the online sessions or separately until Jan. 17 (this link will be made available after January 3). It is $10/person for this one-day workshop.
Research Positions Open in San Angelo
Texas A&M AgriLife Research is recruiting for two research specialists in San Angelo, Texas. The positions will serve key research programs at the center: predator management and animal fibers.
Source: Texas A&M AgriLife
Purdue to Host Shearing School
The Indiana Sheep and Wool Market Development Program is sponsoring a shearing school, hosted by the Indiana Sheep Association on Feb. 24, 2024, at Purdue University’s Animal Science Research and Education Center sheep unit.
“There is a continuous need for new sheep shearers as the older generations retire,” said Gerald Kelly, manager of the Purdue sheep unit and shearing school co-organizer. “The Purdue folks are happy to help the industry just as we have for more than 150 years.”
Anyone is welcome to register – regardless of experience level – to learn the skills and methods required to successfully shear a sheep. This year, ISA will be offering an advanced class to run alongside the beginner class, for shearers who have completed previous instruction, can shear a sheep on their own and have the intent to shear professionally. All instructors will be experienced shearers, including organizer and master shearer Mat Kennedy, whose family members have been great instructors for shearing schools going back to Kennedy’s grandfather.
“With the addition of the advanced shearers class, we hope to assist promising shearers with fine-tuning techniques that will decrease stress on the shearer and increase the number of head they can do in a day,” Kelly said. “We also aim to give demonstrations and hands-on practice for setting up sharpening equipment and grinders and real experience sharpening combs and cutters.”
For beginners, a registration fee of $50 will cover the cost of the workshop, lunch and required shearing equipment. Participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment if they have it. The class will be capped at 20 beginners and five advanced participants. There is no fee for advanced participants.
Registration forms – found at http://indianasheep.com – must be mailed to ISA Executive Director Emma O’Brien at 6840 South 280 East, Lebanon, IN 46052. The completed registration form with the fee enclosed must be received by Feb. 1, 2024. As part of registration, attendees must sign a liability waiver.
Source: Purdue University
National Spinning Ceasing Yarn Production
National Spinning Company recently announced that it will close a plant and cease yarn production. The company spun some wool and wool blends.
“It is with great disappointment that a decision has been made to close our Whiteville (N.C.) Plant after over 60 years of operation and cease production of yarns,” read an announcement from the company. “We anticipate operating for 60 to 90 more days, depending upon orders that are currently on the books and incoming orders over the next couple of weeks. To allow for sufficient time to acquire raw materials and process orders, we will cut off orders after Nov. 27.
“Please place your orders ASAP to allow for production before closing. Fiber and existing yarn inventory will be allocated on a first come basis. If you have any questions or want to set up a meeting to create a plan to keep your company supplied with yarn, you can reach out to Kenny Goodman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued support and business over the years.”
Source: National Spinning Company