AWA Program Moving Forward
More than 50 sheep producers are now members of the American Sheep Industry Association’s voluntary American Wool Assurance program with several now holding a Level I certificate.
In the near future, producers will be able to move on to Level II and Level III certification as ASI continues to work with auditors and industry personnel to develop the evaluation and audit processes required to reach those advanced levels of certification, ultimately resulting in access to additional markets. As that process unfolds, now would be a great time for producers to reach Level I certification, which can be done online through the American Wool Assurance website.
ASI is now in the process of developing and testing the audit tools necessary for advanced certification. Additionally, the association is creating a training program for second-party evaluators and third-party auditors. This training program will include both online and in-person learning and guidance to ensure evaluators are knowledgeable about wool production and the AWA program. Training for evaluators and auditors under the AWA program is expected to begin in early 2022.
Click Here to learn more about the voluntary AWA program.
USDA Expands Assistance for Drought-Impacted Ranchers
In response to severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week its plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing.
USDA is updating the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish Program to immediately cover feed transportation costs for drought impacted ranchers. USDA’s Farm Service Agency will provide more details and tools to help ranchers get ready to apply at their local USDA Service Center later this month at fsa.usda.gov/elap.
“USDA is currently determining how our disaster assistance programs can best help alleviate the significant economic, physical and emotional strain agriculture producers are experiencing due to drought conditions,” said Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack. “The duration and intensity of current drought conditions are merciless, and the impacts of this summer’s drought will be felt by producers for months to come. Today’s announcement is to provide relief as ranchers make fall and winter herd management decisions.”
ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions as determined by the secretary of agriculture.
ELAP already covers the cost of hauling water during drought, and this change will expand the program beginning in 2021 to cover feed transportation costs where grazing and hay resources have been depleted. This includes places where:
- Drought intensity is D2 for eight consecutive weeks as indicated by the U.S. Drought Monitor;
- Drought intensity is D3 or greater; or
- USDA has determined a shortage of local or regional feed availability.
Cost share assistance will also be made available to cover eligible cost of treating hay or feed to prevent the spread of invasive pests like fire ants.
Under the revised policy for feed transportation cost assistance, eligible ranchers will be reimbursed 60 percent of feed transportation costs above what would have been incurred in a normal year. Producers qualifying as underserved (socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning or military veteran) will be reimbursed for 90 percent of the feed transportation cost above what would have been incurred in a normal year.
A national cost formula, as established by USDA, will be used to determine reimbursement costs which will not include the first 25 miles and distances exceeding 1,000 transportation miles. The calculation will also exclude the normal cost to transport hay or feed if the producer normally purchases some feed. For 2021, the initial cost formula of $6.60 per mile will be used – before the percentage is applied – but may be adjusted on a state or regional basis.
To be eligible for ELAP assistance, livestock must be intended for grazing and producers must have incurred feed transportation costs on or after Jan. 1, 2021. Although producers will self-certify losses and expenses to FSA, producers are encouraged to maintain records and retain receipts and related documentation in the event these documents are requested for review by the local FSA County Committee.
The deadline to file an application for payment for the 2021 program year is Jan. 31, 2022.
Click Here for more information.
ALB Launches Tailgate Adventure Campaign
The heat of summer is winding down and cooler fall weather is moving in. That means football season is upon us. The American Lamb Board is building on the momentum of its Outdoor Adventures campaign theme while shifting marketing campaign efforts to a seasonal tailgating theme.
Tailgating can be defined as an outdoor cooking adventure among fans who are eager to support their favorite team. So why not encourage consumers to include American lamb in their tailgating activities? The seasonal Tailgate Adventures Campaign runs now through mid-November with two separate contests for consumers to enter:
- The first contest is through Instagram – consumers are asked to follow ALB’s @FanofLamb account, repost the contest to their story and share a photo of their tailgate using #AmericanLambTailgate. All participants will be entered into a drawing for a grand prize package consisting of a Traeger grill, a Yeti cooler, a custom cornhole set and $500 worth of American lamb.
- The second contest is open to those consumers who are not on Instagram. For this contest, ALB will award eight winners a sponsored tailgate celebration. Each prize will include: five pounds of ground American lamb, American lamb branded koozies and a $250 Target gift card. To be considered, entrants will complete a short survey to provide insight into their favorite team and how they throw an epic tailgate party.
In addition to the contests, ALB has lined up several Lambassador influencers and bloggers to create flavorful American lamb recipes and content centered around tailgating to help promote the campaign to a larger audience.
Australian Market Posts Increases This Week
The Australian wool market bounced back from losses experienced at last week’s auctions, with the market recording an overall increase for this series. There were anecdotal reports of many overseas orders being booked early in the week. Because of these sales, the talk amongst the trade was of the market being dearer.
On the opening day of selling, the talk turned to fact as the market climbed higher. All Merino fleece types and descriptions enjoyed the rises as buyers scrambled to get meaningful quantity in the smaller than normal offering. By the end of the day, the individual Micron Price Guides across the country had risen by between 14 and 60 cents. On the back of these rises, the benchmark AWEX Eastern Market Indicator added 29 cents for the day. This was the largest daily rise in the EMI for the 2021-22 season so far, and the highest since June 16 when the EMI climbed 1 cent higher.
The second day of selling, the market settled. Prices achieved were generally within 15 cents of those of the previous day. This was reflected in the regional MPGs, where the movements ranged between +15 and -16 cents. The Southern indicator added 2 cents, the Northern indicator dropped 3 cents, which resulted in the EMI finishing the day unchanged. The EMI ended the week 29 cents higher, closing the series at 1,361 Australian cents.
The Merino skirtings followed a similar path to the fleece for this series. Solid price increases in line with the fleece were recorded on the first day of selling, followed by a generally unchanged market on the second. The higher prices achieved this week encouraged more sellers to the market, pushing the national offering up for next week. Currently, there are 38,630 bales expected to be offered in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.
USDA Requests Comments on Labeling of Cell-Derived Meat
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service recently published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments and information regarding the labeling of meat and poultry products made using cultured cells derived from animals under FSIS jurisdiction. FSIS will use these comments to inform future regulatory requirements for the labeling of such food products.
On March 7, 2019, USDA and the Food and Drug Administration announced a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products made using animal cell culture technology and derived from the cells of livestock and poultry to ensure that such products brought to market are safe, unadulterated and truthfully labeled. Under the agreement, FDA will oversee cell collection, growth and differentiation of cells. FDA will transfer oversight at the cell harvest stage to FSIS, which will then oversee the cell harvest, processing, packaging and labeling of products. FDA and FSIS also agreed to develop joint principles for the labeling of products made using cell culture technology under their respective labeling jurisdictions.
Other than new labeling regulations concerning this product, FSIS does not intend to issue any other new food safety regulations for the cell-cultured food products under its jurisdiction. Current FSIS regulations requiring sanitation and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems are immediately applicable and sufficient to ensure the safety of products cultured from the cells of livestock and poultry.
FSIS already has received thousands of comments on the topic, in response to a 2018 joint public meeting with FDA and regarding two petitions for rulemaking. The agency, however, needs specific types of comments and information that will inform the process of developing labeling regulations for meat and poultry products made using animal cell culture technology.
The ANPR is requesting comment on specific topics to be considered during rulemaking related to statutory and regulatory requirements for the labeling of these meat and poultry products: consumer expectations about the labeling of these products, especially in light of the nutritional composition and organoleptic qualities (taste, color, odor or texture) of the products; names for these products that would be neither false nor misleading; economic data; and any consumer research related to labeling nomenclature for products made using animal cell culture technology.
The ANPR also discusses how FSIS will generally evaluate labels for these products if they are submitted before the agency completes rulemaking.
There is a 60-day period for comment on the ANPR. To view the ANPR and information on how to comment or submit information, visit the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/policy/federal-register-rulemaking/federal-register-rules.
USDA Offers Grants for Farm and Food Workers
Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack announced this week that $700 million in competitive grant funding will be available through the new Farm and Food Workers Relief grant program to help farmworkers and meatpacking workers with pandemic-related health and safety costs.
Additionally, to recognize the essential role and costs borne by front-line grocery workers, $20 million of this amount has been set aside for at least one pilot program to support grocery workers and test options for reaching them in the future. The new program is funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and is part of USDA’s Build Back Better efforts to respond and recover from the pandemic.
The program will provide relief to farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and front-line grocery workers for expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief is intended to defray costs for reasonable and necessary personal, family, or living expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as costs for personal protective equipment, dependent care and expenses associated with quarantines and testing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This aligns with the administration’s efforts to revitalize the economy and provide relief to historically underserved communities. The Request for Application will be announced in early fall and will be open for 60 days. Additional information and technical assistance for applying to these grants and program updates will be provided by USDA when the application period opens.
Click Here for more information.
Coalition Seeks Tax Protections for Agribusinesses
The American Sheep Industry Association joined hundreds of other agriculture organizations this week in signing onto a letter asking legislators to protect “long-standing tax code provisions that are fundamental to the financial health of production agriculture and the businesses that supply its inputs, transport its products, market its commodities and support the vibrancy of U.S. livestock and crop production.”
“There are more than four times as many farmers and ranchers aged 65 and older as there are those under the age of 35, and these individuals own more than 40 percent of agricultural land in the United States,” read the letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Finance and the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means. “With more than 370 million acres expected to change hands in the next two decades, the policies Congress enacts now will determine agricultural producers’ ability to secure affordable land to start or expand their operations. Regardless of whether a business has already been passed down through multiple generations or is just starting out, the key to its longevity is a continued ability to transition when a family member or business partner dies. For this reason, we firmly believe the current federal estate tax code provisions must be maintained.
“Further, federal tax policy should help facilitate the transfer of agricultural land to family-owned operations, and especially those who face the greatest challenges in acquiring it: beginning, veteran and minority farmers and ranchers. Because assets in agriculture are typically held by one owner for several decades, resetting the basis on the value of the land, buildings and livestock on the date of the owner’s death under a step-up in basis is important for surviving family members and business partners to ensure the future financial stability of the operation. Imposing a new capital gains tax at death would effectively establish a transfer tax with the potential to devastate our nation’s family-owned agribusinesses.”
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