ASI VP Testifies Before House Ag Committee
American Sheep Industry Association Vice President Brad Boner of Wyoming represented the nation’s sheep producers when he testified in person before the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee on Thursday at the committee’s Hearing to Review the State of the Livestock Industry.
Boner’s written testimony called for ensuring there is no lapse in Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting, but also asked for changes in LMR that would benefit the lamb industry.
“In 2011, there were 13 reports under mandatory price reporting for lamb,” Boner said in his written comments. “Today, there are only five reports available, all of which are national reports released on a weekly basis. Of these five reports, the amount of information provided in the slaughter lamb report has been diminished over the years with the data on formula traded lambs not being reported in over a year. These lapses in price reporting led the industry last month to support USDA’s withdrawal of Livestock Risk Protection – Lamb since the sporadic availability of the product unpinned by the lack of reported prices rendered the program of limited use.
“The American Sheep Industry Association has proposed a number of potential changes to LMR that we believe would enhance the program’s effectiveness for lamb producers while protecting the interests of everyone in the supply chain. The first recommendation is to change or replace the 3/70/20 Confidentiality Guideline.”
With the recent announcement from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the United States had agreed to open to lamb from the United Kingdom, trade was also a necessary topic of discussion.
“The domestic industry’s ability to withstand additional import pressure at this challenging time, and the United Kingdom’s tremendous potential for significant lamb exports in the wake of their departure from the European Union are a looming concern for United States lamb producers,” Boner wrote. “A cautious and deliberative approach is necessary to ensure that while trade may be free, it is fair.”
The topic came up during the live hearing when addressed by Rep. Dusty Johnson (S.D.) at the end of his time for questions of Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The secretary was then granted extra time by Committee Chair Rep. David Scott (Ga.) to address disease concerns about imports from the United Kingdom.
“When I travel overseas, I am always asking our European friends and others to follow the science, and particularly as it relates to BSE,” Vilsack said. “We had this conversation with our Chinese friends for a long time. We’ve got to be consistent here. We’ve got to follow the science, to follow OIE recommendations and requirements. We’ve been dealing with this issue in terms of lamb for a long period of time. And so, it’s pretty consistent with our approach internationally for our exports that we follow the science, and I think we have to talk the talk and walk the walk. And that’s what I think you’re going to see here.”
Click Here for Brad Boner’s written testimony.
Click Here for video of the complete hearing.
Wool Press Program Wraps with Two Final Grants
The American Sheep Industry Association’s Wool Press Grant program wrapped up its final year by awarding two $5,000 grants to assist in the domestic production of wool presses.
Started in 2019, the program awarded 10 grants overall: eight to shearers or shearing crews, one to a shearer/producer and one to a producer. Applicants from eight different states (Idaho, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming) received grants and the average number of sheep impacted by the use of these new presses each year is estimated at 520,000.
With limited participation in the program this year, the wool grant program will not be offered next year. ASI is working on other programs to assist with developing and retaining shearers that it believes will help address the lack of trained shearers in the United States.
Farm Flock Economics Webinar Set for Oct. 12
Bridger Feuz of the University of Wyoming will lead a discussion on Farm Flock Economics during the next American Sheep Industry Association-sponsored webinar on Oct. 12, beginning at 8 p.m. eastern time.
Keeping track of things is an important but tall task sometimes in the life of a sheep producer. This webinar will discuss some of the essential records for making sound management decisions. There will also be discussion about useful economic tools to help make decisions focused on farm flocks.
As always, the webinar will be hosted by Dr. Jay Parsons of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will also be available for on-demand viewing on the ASI website a few days after the live webinar.
Click Here to register for the free webinar.
Australian Wool Market Posts Small Increase
The Australian wool market steadied this week to record a small overall increase following the losses experienced in the previous series.
The national offering reduced to 38,846 bales, due in part to last week’s lower prices. Despite this reduction, the overall offering this season continues to track well above the previous season. Compared to the corresponding sale of the 2020-21 season, there have been 102,775 more bales offered through auction – an increase of 31.6 percent.
Exporters have anecdotally reported that some overseas clients have had to reduce production levels due to power supply issues. Despite this fact, the overall demand at this week’s sale was buoyant, resulting in good competition from the opening lot all the way to the final hammer. The finer microns attracted the most buyer support and, as a result, enjoyed the largest gains.
This was reflected in the individual Micron Price Guides for 18 micron and finer, which rose across the country by between 12 and 38 cents. All other Merino fleece MPGs recorded gains for the series, excluding the 19.5 micron MPG, which posted small losses in the Eastern centers. These gains helped push the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator into positive territory for the series. The EMI closed the week at 1,339 Australian cents for a gain of 2 cents. Due to currency movement, the gain in USD terms was higher. The EMI added 11 USc, closing the series at 975 US cents.
The oddment sector was the poorest performing this series. General losses of between 10 and 20 cents were reflected in the three Merino Carding Indicators, which fell by an average of 12 cents for the week.
Next week’s national offering increases, as some cautious sellers have been encouraged back to market. There currently are 42,755 bales expected to be offered in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.
ALB Producing Lamb Quality Video Series
The American Lamb Board and Premier 1 Supplies are co-sponsoring a new American Lamb Quality Video Series. The North Dakota State University Extension Service is producing the five-part series.
Using the theme of Beginning with the End in Mind, the series’ purpose is to help the American lamb industry provide a consistently high-quality product to consumers, taking into account the wide variety of production systems.
NDSU and University of Minnesota Extension Sheep Specialist Travis Hoffman, Ph.D., is spearheading the project. The first video, Lamb Carcass Characteristics is now available at the lambresourcecenter.com and www.lambsummit.com. The next videos, USDA Yield Grades and USDA Quality Grades, Live Animal Evaluation, and Retail Meat Yield and Value will be announced in the coming months.
“Using lamb carcasses to demonstrate quality attributes and techniques used for standardized analysis make the videos very relevant and useful for today’s U.S. sheep producers,” said ALB Chair Gwen Ktizan from Newell, S.D.
The American Lamb Board is funded by the American Lamb Checkoff and is charged with building awareness and expanding demand for American lamb, and strengthening its position in the marketplace, thereby increasing the potential long-range economic growth of all industry sectors.
USDA Looks to Strengthen Food Supply Chain
As part of the administration’s efforts to address food systems challenges arising from the pandemic as well as those going back decades, United States Department of Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack announced this week that USDA plans for another $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The funding would leverage hundreds of millions more in lending through community and private sector lenders to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and finance other food supply chain infrastructure. These investments will help deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for farmers and address bottlenecks in the food supply chain revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic.
The department plans to publish specific details on the new program and how to apply as part of USDA’s Build Back Better Initiative, a comprehensive plan to invest $4 billion to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition.
Click Here for more information.
Application Period Open for PRS Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week a Request for Applications for the new Pandemic Response and Safety Grant program and encourages eligible entities to apply now for funds. Applications must be submitted electronically through the grant portal at https://usda-prs.grantsolutions.gov/usda by 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Monday, Nov. 22.
Approximately $650 million in funding is available for the PRS grants, which are funded by the Pandemic Assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
The PRS Grant program will assist small businesses in certain commodity areas, including specialty crop producers, shellfish farming, finfish farming, aquaculture and apiculture; specialty crop, meat and other processors; distributors; and farmers markets. Small businesses and nonprofits in these industries can apply for a grant to cover COVID-related expenses such as workplace safety measures (e.g., personal protective equipment), retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety, shifting to online sales platforms, transportation, worker housing and medical costs. The minimum funding request is $1,500 and the maximum funding request is $20,000.
The RFA and the PRS Grant Portal provide more details about eligibility for the grant. Eligible entities are required to obtain a free DUNS Number from Dun & Bradstreet before applying for this program. USDA has created a custom PRS DUNS number portal at https://support.dnb.com/?CUST=PandemicResponse.
Application resources, including Frequently Asked Questions, tip sheets in English and Spanish on applying for a DUNS Number, videos on “How to Apply” and more, are available on the PRS Grant Portal.
Western Caucus Members Unveil Blueprint for Conservation
Congressional Western Caucus and Senate Western Caucus Members revealed this week a holistic, outcome-based conservation proposal titled, Western Conservation Principles. The proposal, which serves as an alternative to the Biden Administration’s 30 by 30 Initiative and America the Beautiful report, is a blueprint for responsible, effective conservation supported by rural communities across the United States.
“In the West, we know firsthand that locking up lands with preservationist designations does not automatically guarantee healthy landscapes,” wrote Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.) and Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.). “In fact, the opposite is often the case. The Western Conservation Principles demonstrate that conservation and working lands go hand-in-hand. If the administration is serious about restoring America the Beautiful, they will embrace Western Conservation Principles and promote these time-tested, science-based practices we know equate to real conservation outcomes for our lands and waters.”
“The American Sheep Industry Association strongly supports the Western Conservation Principals outlined by the Senate and Western Caucuses,” said ASI Senior Policy and Information Director Chase Adams. “The commonsense recommendations provide a needed and beneficial framework for the president’s 30×30 Initiative and recognize the role of all stakeholders in preserving our nation’s public lands through multiple use.”