Registration Open for 2021 ASI Annual Convention
Mountains of Opportunity await at the 2021 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention, but sheep producers won’t have to leave the comfort of their own farms or ranches to attend the first-ever virtual convention on Jan. 28-29.
Attend council and committee meetings, vote for ASI officers and set policy that will guide the American Sheep Industry for years to come simply by registering and logging in for this historic online convention.
While we’ll miss the opportunity to see America’s sheep producers face-to-face in January, a virtual meeting was a necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Join us online as we give the latest presentations on sheep industry topics, new lamb companies, the American wool testing laboratory and as we conduct the essential business of governing the American Sheep Industry Association.
Click Here to register.
ASI Research Update: Nonlethal Predator Management
This month’s ASI Research Update Podcast features Dr. John Tomececk of Texas A&M University and Dan Macon of the University of California Cooperative Extension discussing predator management tools of the nonlethal variety. A second, related podcast for December will focus on lethal management tools.
“Our topic today is one of those challenges that has remained a constant thorn in the side of sheep producers throughout history, and that is predator control,” said podcast host Jake Thorne, adding that the first reaction of most livestock producers when faced with predation is to eliminate the predator.
“Even those of us who are committed to using nonlethal tools also take our jobs as shepherds very seriously and part of that job is to be responsible for all of our sheep at all times,” Macon said. “So, I think finding a fresh kill does create that mindset that you want to go out and take care of that problem. But it’s also more complicated than that.”
Macon added that it’s important to determine what type of animal the predator is. Depending on where you’re located, it might seem safe to assume it was a coyote or a bear or a mountain lion, but it’s rare that producers actually witness the attack.
Coming from a wildlife background, Dr. Tomececk says predators are part of a natural ecosystem that producers rely on, and for that reason it is important to keep that ecosystem intact.
Click Here to listen to the podcast.
USDA Implements NEPA Changes
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service announced this week the publication of a final rule implementing key changes to its National Environmental Policy Act regulations. The changes include new tools and flexibilities to tackle critical land management challenges as part of a broader agency effort to better serve the American people through timely, high-quality management decisions affecting infrastructure, permitting and restoration of natural resources on their national forests and grasslands.
“These changes will ensure we do the appropriate level of environmental analysis to fit the work, locations and conditions,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “The new categorical exclusions will ultimately improve our ability to maintain and repair the infrastructure people depend on to use and enjoy their national forests – such as roads, trails, campgrounds and other facilities.”
Categorical exclusions are a type of analysis for certain activities that typically do not have significant environmental effects. The rule establishes new or revised categorical exclusions that eliminate redundant efforts, allowing for previous environmental analyses to be used to support new decisions under certain circumstances, among other efficiencies.
The Forest Service finalized the regulations following its review of extensive public engagement and decades of experience complying with NEPA, one of the nation’s foundational environmental laws. The changes will allow Forest Service officials to concentrate resources on projects that are potentially more complex or have greater public interest, while also meeting NEPA requirements and fully honoring the agency’s environmental stewardship and public engagement responsibilities.
“ASI policy has long called for the use of the appropriate environmental analysis throughout the application of the National Environmental Policy Act, including the use of categorical exclusions,” said American Sheep Industry Association President Benny Cox of Texas. “These changes by the Forest Service are a great step in the right direction and will help draw down the backlog of permit renewals for public lands grazers. The changes will also benefit the range through the reduction of catastrophic wildfire like we saw this year and have seen so many years in the past.”
The updated regulations were published in the Federal Register on Thursday and took effect immediately.
Click Here for more information.
Wool Press Grant Deadline is Dec. 1
The deadline to apply for a $5,000 grant toward the purchase or construction of a new wool press is quickly approaching. Those looking to apply for assistance from the American Sheep Industry Association’s American Wool Council must have their applications in by Dec. 1.
Shearing companies, individual shearers, wool warehouses and others are eligible to apply for the third round of grant funding in this unique program designed to bring new wool presses into the American wool supply chain. Presses built with grant funds must meet certain criteria as outlined in the grant program application.
Click Here to learn more.
COVID-19 Affects American Lamb Exports
The American Lamb Board works with the U.S. Meat Export Federation to monitor and build export markets for American lamb. USMEF carries out market access and development activities in more than 90 countries in an effort to increase the value and profitability of American lamb, beef and pork.
In 2019, the American lamb industry exported 15,732 metric tonnes of products, including variety meats – a 22-percent volume increase from 2018. The key export markets for American lamb in 2019 included Mexico, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Canada. Although exports to Asia in 2019 remained slow, recent access to Taiwan and Japan has created opportunities in high-end foodservice.
In 2020, COVID–19 has impacted American lamb exports due to the pandemic’s effect on tourism and fine dining in worldwide markets. Foodservice and tourism-dependent markets such as the Caribbean, Middle East, Japan, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Taiwan were heavily impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns.
Domestically, supply of American lamb has been disrupted not only by pandemic issues, but by the closure of Mountain States Rosen earlier this year.
“We can’t sell into the export market what we are unable to produce and process. This year has brought challenges to all sectors of the American lamb industry never seen before,” said ALB Chairman Gwen Kitzan of Nisland, S.D.
A bright spot in the export picture rests on opportunities in Japan and Taiwan. Similar to the United States market, Japan experienced a retail surge as a result of COVID-19 because foodservice options were limited and consumers opted to eat at home. As a result, USMEF shifted ALB 2020 promotional funds in Japan from fine dining and chef education to retail. USMEF partnered with a Japanese retailer to launch new American lamb products, including boneless shoulders and steaks in the retailer’s 10 stores.
In Taiwan, restaurants adapted to the pandemic by adding additional delivery services to their regular menus. Many households in Taiwan prefer to dine-out instead of cook at home, so dine-in services are still expected to rebound because of this strong preference. In 2020, USMEF devoted part of its ALB funding to reach consumers directly via social media. The purpose is to build interest in American lamb as a top-tier product that deserves high regard at retail and on restaurant menus. USMEF hosts a Facebook page dedicated to educating Taiwan consumers about American lamb cuts and cooking techniques, and collaborates with restaurant partners to feature lamb recipes.
MSU Plans Birthing Management Webinar
The Michigan State University Small Ruminant Extension team is offering a four-part webinar series on birth management for sheep and goats that will lead producers through a host of topics.
Each weekly session will last approximately 90 minutes, will be recorded for future viewing and will include: seminars, specialized instructional videos, and question-and-answer sessions with an expert panel. Session topics include:
- 12, 2021 – Nutritional management to optimize birth outcomes.
- 19, 2021 – Optimizing maternal and newborn health.
- 26, 2021 – The normal birthing process, birth assistance and newborn care.
- 2, 2021 – Identifying challenges on your farm and creating improvement plans.
Instructors for the webinar will include Richard Ehrhardt, Ph.D., Mike Metzger, M.S., and Erin Recktenwald, Ph.D. Registration is $40 per farm/family and includes a 40-page manual, a laminated lamb hypothermia/starvation treatment poster and access to all recorded sessions. For information, contact Carla McLachlan at 517-432-5402 or MCLACHL2@msu.edu.
Click Here to register for the webinar.
Agricultural Census Web Mapping App Available
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has released the National Agricultural Statistics Service 2017 Census of Agriculture web mapping application for major animal agricultural commodities.
APHIS worked collaboratively with NASS to create the 2017 Census mapping application to enable easy access to NASS animal agricultural commodities data. The web-based map application displays inventory and operations data for six major animal agricultural commodities at the State level and 13 major animal agricultural commodities at the county level. Specialized mapping skills are not required to view and evaluate this data in this user-friendly, easy-to-navigate application.
Here are a few highlights from the NASS 2017 Census of Agriculture web mapping application
- Users can explore Census of Agriculture data and create custom maps of specific commodities in selected geographic regions based on user inputs. They can download data in CSV format or print a map in a graphic or PDF format.
- Commodities available to view and evaluate at the state level include: cattle, swine, poultry (broilers, layers and turkeys), sheep and goats, equine, and aquaculture (only operations data are gathered for aquaculture).
- The 13 major animal agricultural commodities at the county level are: cattle (beef and milk cows), beef cows, milk cows, hogs and pigs, all poultry, broilers, layers, turkeys, sheep and goats, sheep, goats, equines, and aquaculture.
- The web mapping application includes a user guide and a detailed tool guide for extensive user assistance enabling users to get the most out of the tools and overall application use.
The NASS 2017 Census of Agriculture web mapping application is available on the APHIS Geospatial Products and Services web page.
Australian Market Falters This Week
The Australian wool market fell this week, with nearly every sector of the market recording losses. The total national offering reduced to 36,332 bales after 7.1 percent of the selection was withdrawn prior to sale. Compared to the corresponding sale of the previous season, there have been 10,593 fewer bales put through the auction system – a 1.8 percent reduction.
The bulk of the losses were felt on the first day of selling. The individual Merino Micron Price Guides across the country reduced by between 11 and 52 cents. These losses combined with falls in the other sectors, resulted in a 28-cent drop in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator.
The second selling day, the market steadied with minimal further price reductions combined with price rises in some MPGs. The losses were between 5 and 8 cents, while the increases ranged between 2 and 26 cents. Mainly due to further losses in the skirting and crossbred sectors, the EMI fell again for the day and dropped another 2 cents. The EMI lost 30 cents for the series, closing the week at 1,159 Australian cents. This equated to a 2.5 percent fall. Due to minimal currency movement this week, the fall in the EMI in US dollar terms was very similar (2.7 percent).
Unlike the fleece, the Merino skirtings reduced both days, generally closing the week at price levels 50 to 60 cents below those achieved in the previous sale. The crossbred sector recorded the largest losses (in percentage terms) for the series. In the South, the 28-micron MPG dropped 52 cents (an 8 percent fall), 30 micron lost 44 cents (9 percent) and 32 micron fell by 20 cents (7 percent). The oddments followed a similar path to the fleece, losses on the first day, followed by minimal positive movement on the second.
Next week national offering rises, there are currently 41,527 bales available to the trade in Melbourne, Fremantle and Sydney (which is a designated Superfine sale).
- PRODUCER EDUCATION