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Annual Convention Looks at Farm Bill, Processing Prohibition

The 2024 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention will offer producers a closer look at two pieces of legislation that will greatly affect our industry.

The Opening Session on Jan. 11 features officials from congressional agriculture committees discussing the new Farm Bill. Whether it’s passed by then or is still being hashed out in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, there will be plenty to talk about for American sheep producers.

Farm Bill priorities for the industry include: wool marketing assistance loans and loan deficiency payment programs; funding for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center; animal disease prevention and management; development of pharmaceuticals for use in small ruminants; Foreign Agriculture Service programs; and climate change and sustainability programs.

The Speaker Lunch on Jan. 13 will feature representatives from Superior Farms discussing a petition in the city of Denver to prohibit processing of livestock within the city limits. If passed, the petition would force the closure of Superior Farms’ lamb processing plant that is just minutes from the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel where the ASI Annual Convention will be taking place. In addition, the petition could have ramifications for livestock processing in major cities all across the country.

“If they could pass such legislation in Denver – with as rich a livestock history as any in the American West – then they could pass it in places such as Chicago, Detroit and New York City,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick.

Speaking of the Superior Farms plant in Denver, there’s still time to book your spot on the Industry Tour that includes stops at the plant and at Harper Feeders. Tour participants will see both facilities and, in the process, learn how they implemented ASI’s Secure Sheep and Wool Supply Plan to combat and minimize business interruptions during a potential Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak.

Click Here to register for the ASI Annual Convention and all related events.


Livestock Groups Applaud House Appropriations Bill

The American Sheep Industry Association joined the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to offer support for Sec. 490 of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies act (H.R. 4821) passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives. That support was offered by way of a letter to newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (La.).

Sec. 420 says no funds made available in the appropriations act may be used to, “develop, finalize or issue a final rule with respect to the proposed rule entitled, ‘Conservation and Landscape Health’ published by the Bureau of Land Management in the Federal Register on April 3, 2023 (88 Fed. Reg. 19583); or implement, administer or enforce such proposed rule or any substantially similar rule.”

The proposed rule identified in this section, “usurps Congress, exceeds its own statutory mandates, and would upend decades of established land management principles and standard practice,” read the letter. “The proposed rule would elevate ‘conservation’ as a land use within the current multiple use framework. This exceeds the Bureau’s jurisdiction pursuant to Section 103(l) of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976 (Pub.L. 94-579) and, on its own, warrants congressional intervention to stop the rule from taking effect.

“Further, the proposed rule would allow the Bureau to disallow statutorily approved uses, ‘that are inconsistent with the authorized conservation use,’ on lands under its purview (88 Fed. Reg. 19591 et seq). This too is entirely contrary to the multiple use and sustained yield mandate to which the Bureau is beholden. If finalized, this rule would cripple grazing, recreation, conservation, energy production, and all other uses that are at the core of public lands management.

“In addition, despite the unprecedented and massive impacts the proposed rule would have on federal land management, the Bureau declined to conduct analyses pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, failed to conduct accurate economic assessments pursuant to Executive Order 12866, and erroneously determined the rule does not constitute a Major Federal action.

“Livestock producers are crucial partners in achieving land health objectives. As one of countless examples, just last week a 10-year study by the University of Idaho – in partnership with numerous entities including the Bureau – concluded that not only can livestock and the greater sage grouse coexist on the same land but that grazing increases the amount of key food sources for grouse during key periods that determine whether populations flourish or struggle. Misguided and agenda-driven policies like the Conservation and Landscape Health rule will only set back important work like this which improves the federal estate for future generations.”

In addition to signing on to the letter to the speaker, ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick said, “A third of the American sheep flock spends a portion of the year on federal lands, so topics involving the Bureau of Land Management are critical to the industry. The House’s Interior Appropriations bill addresses the Conservation and Landscape Health rule, which is the basis for a concerning proposed Resource Management Plan in Wyoming. The plan would dramatically cut both livestock grazing and predator management in the Rock Springs area, which is already home to significant sheep grazing. As the Wyoming Wool Growers Association has pointed out, this plan might also set an unfortunate precedent for public lands across the Western United States.”


ASI Accepting Officer Nominations

American Sheep Industry Association Nominating Committee Chair Benny Cox reminds sheep producer leaders and state associations that nominations for ASI officer positions are due in November. The current slate of officers all intend to submit their names for reelection.

Interested producers should share a letter of interest with Cox or the ASI office by Nov. 20. The committee will then agree on a nomination slate of officers to be presented to the ASI Board of Directors at the ASI Annual Convention in January.

Contact Cox at or 325-653-3371, or ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick at 303-771-3500, ext 103, or for more information.

In addition, Regions I, III and V will need to elect new representatives to the ASI Executive Board as Laurie Hubbard, Anne Crider and Tammy Fisher, respectively, are all term-limited. John Noh in Region 7 is eligible for reelection. Regional representative elections are conducted during the regional caucuses on Saturday morning at the Annual Convention.


Australian Wool Market Drops Back

After recording two positive movements and an unchanged result in the previous three selling series, the Australian wool market fell this week.

The national offering rose by 5,354 bales to 44,378 bales, making this the largest national offering since the end of August. The total amount offered this season is tracking well above the previous year. Season to date there have been 625,655 bales offered, which is 24,103 bales more than Week 18 last year for an increase of 4 percent.

There was strong buyer interest in wool possessing favorable additional measurement results, and wool in this category recorded very little change. Lesser-style wool, wool with less favorable AM results and wool containing any types of noticeable fault were discounted. It was the discounting of these types that drove the market lower.

By the end of the series, the movements in the individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece across the country were between plus 7 and minus 32 cents. The skirtings, cardings and crossbreds recorded minimal movement for the series, meaning the overall market movement was driven by the Merino fleece. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator fell by 10 cents for the week – a reduction of 0.9 percent.

The EMI continues to trade well below last year. Compared to the corresponding sale of the previous season, the EMI is 132 cents lower – a fall of 10.5 percent. Due to a weakening Australian dollar – the AUD fell by 0.54 U.S. cents since the close of last week – when viewed in U.S. terms, the fall in the market was higher. The EMI fell by 12 U.S. cents, closing the week at 715 U.S. cents – a fall of 1.7 percent.

Next week sales will be held on Wednesday and Thursday to accommodate a public holiday in Melbourne on Tuesday. Currently, 45,246 bales are expected to be offered in Melbourne, Fremantle and Sydney, which is a designated Superfine sale.

Click Here for the Australian Wool Report Prices in USc Per Pound.

Source: AWEX


Shearing Schools Planned for 2023-24

A handful of shearing and wool classing schools have announced dates for the 2023-24 season. If your school isn’t listed below, please contact Heather Pearce at to have it added to the list.

  • North Dakota State University Shearing School, Nov. 18-20 in Hettinger, N.D. Contact Dr. Christopher Schauer at
  • North Dakota State University Wool Classing School, Nov. 18-20 in Hettinger, N.D. Contact Dr. Christopher Schauer at
  • Utah State University Shearing School, Jan. 18-20, 2024, at the USU Animal Science Farm in Wellsville, Utah. Visit for more information.
  • Maryland Sheep Shearing School, Feb. 16-17, 2024, in Fairplay, Md. Contact
  • Missouri Extension Shearing School, March 6-7, 2024, at Lincoln University’s George Carver Farm in Jefferson City, Mo. Contact Jody Bruemmer at or 573-681-5540.
  • New York Shearing School, March 8-9, 2024, at Stone and Thistle Farm in East Meredith, N.Y. Contact Doug Rathke at 320-583-7281.
  • Shepherd’s Cross Shearing Schools, April 11-13, 2024, and April 15-17, 2024, in Claremore, Okla. Visit for more information.
  • Colorado Sheep Shearing School, April 12-14, 2024, in Craig, Colo. Email for information.
  • Washington State Beginner Shearing School, April 22-26, 2024, Moses Lake, Wash. An advanced shearing school will also be conducted on April 27. Contact Sarah Smith at 509-754-2011, ext. 4363 or


SBBU Releases Quarterly Newsletter

The Scottish Blackface Breeders Union has released the first issue of its quarterly newsletter, The Tupping Times.

Click Here to read the issue. The newsletter will only be available to SBBU members in the future.

SBBU was organized in 2008 to provide a central source for information about the breed in North America. The SBBU is more than just a registry. It’s a group of like-minded shepherds that appreciate the Scottish Blackface Breed for what it is and for what it is not, according to a SBBU press release.

“Even if you’ve never looked into this historic breed before, now may be your chance to learn about how the Scottish Blackface can make a positive impact on your farm (and bottom line), just like is has been for others for centuries,” read the release.

Click Here to learn more.

Source: SBBU


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.

Senate Passes Minibus, Including Ag Spending Bill

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate brought to the floor a three-bill funding package that combined the Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriation bills. The Senate passed its minibus overwhelmingly with an 82-15 vote.

While the Senate has finally pushed through its agriculture spending bill, the House counterpart is still a work in progress, after its first attempt on the House floor failed in late September with a 191-237 vote. As passed, the Senate’s bill would fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration at just shy of $26 billion. The Senate version of the bill largely falls in line with the spending amount originally agreed to during the debt limit deal between the White House and House Republicans back in June.

All in all, the Senate has now passed three of its 12 appropriations bills and the House six of its 12. Still, the threat of potential government shutdown still looms ahead unless Congress can push through their remaining appropriations bills or pass a stopgap measure before the current Continuing Resolution expires on Nov. 17.

White House Requests $55 billion in Emergency Funding

Last week, the White House submitted to Congress an emergency supplemental funding request for domestic needs. The request included funding for the following priorities of note to food and agriculture:

  • $2.83 billion for crop and livestock producers who sustained uncovered losses due to natural disasters in calendar year 2023.
  • $161 million for the Natural Resource Conservation Service to support flood and wildfire debris and wildlife cleanup projects.
  • $50 million for disaster response to any USDA Rural Development Program.
  • $10 million for USDA Rural Development to allow Community Facilities grants to be used for local cost shares required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • $19.6 million to repair Bureau of Reclamation facilities damaged by flooding and landslides in California and by fires in New Mexico.
  • $405 million for the U.S. Forest Service to repair and rebuild facilities damaged by natural disasters throughout the National Forest System.
  • $12 million to USFS to restore forests in Hawaii.
  • $5 million to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service for McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program grants.
  • $1 billion to FAS for Food for Peace Title II grants.
  • $220 million to USFS and the Department of Interior to increase base pay for wildland firefighters.

Click Here for a full breakdown of the domestic funding request.

Gray Wolves Relisted Under ESA

To comply with a federal court order, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a final rule on Thursday to recognize federal protections for gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act in 45 states.

It was nearly two years ago that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White found the Trump administration improperly relied on gray wolf population recoveries in the Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains when it decided in October 2020 that wolves across the contiguous United States no longer qualified for federal protection.

At the time, service officials said the delisting marked the successful recovery of a previously threatened species, which first made the list in 1978. Critics said the agency based its decision on flawed legal analyses and junk science; the government’s own experts said the delisting proposal lacked sufficient scientific evidence and was premature.

Despite fierce opposition from conservation groups, President Joe Biden’s Administration defended the delisting of gray wolves, which had reportedly been in the works for years before being finalized under President Donald Trump.

Judge White’s ruling on Feb. 10, 2022, reinstated federal protections that had been in place for gray wolves before the service’s final delisting rule, thereby relisting the wolves as threatened in Minnesota and endangered in all or parts of 44 U.S. states and Mexico.

Click Here to read the full story.

Source: Courthouse News Service

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