Western Senators Call for Section 32 Lamb Purchase

Nearly a dozen U.S. senators recently wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting support for the domestic sheep industry through a Section 32 purchase of American lamb.

“We appreciate the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s support for America’s livestock sector during the volatile market conditions over the past two years. The livestock and meat processing industries are an important part of our states’ agricultural economy and way of life, and we are grateful for USDA’s ongoing support. We write to urge the department to make a Section 32 purchase to address ongoing market challenges facing the domestic lamb industry.

“During the pandemic, American farmers, ranchers and families endured severe price volatility at the supermarket. Labor shortages at meatpacking and processing facilities, combined with supply chain issues, limited the availability of beef, pork and chicken. In response, American sheep farmers and ranchers helped close the shortfall by increasing their lamb herds, and demand for lamb increased alongside it. Now that market conditions have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, demand for beef, pork and chicken has rebounded. As a result, domestic lamb supply now outstrips demand, leaving lamb prices stagnant and lamb feeders struggling to find outlets for their maturing surplus.

“As you know, Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935 authorizes USDA to support the prices of commodities in surplus through market purchases and domestic distribution. We respectfully request that USDA use its Section 32 authority to make immediate purchases of this year’s maturing lamb crop. This will provide farmers and ranchers the short-term stability to sustain the family farm as they work to realign production with current demand.

“In addition to a Section 32 purchase of lamb, we support improvements to USDA’s reporting structure and requirements for the lamb marketplace to increase price transparency and stability. We hope USDA will work closely with industry members on long-term solutions to support domestic lamb producers and feeders.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), John Hickenlooper (Colo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), James Risch (Idaho), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Michael Rounds (S.D.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and John Thune (S.D.).

 

Bill Proposes Doubling Investment in Ag Export Programs

The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports applauds Sens. Angus King (Maine), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Tina Smith (Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) for introducing the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports Act of 2022, which would double funding for USDA’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program. Both programs are critical to expanding global market access for U.S. produced agricultural exports, including American wool. The American Sheep Industry Association uses both programs to support the marketing of American wool to overseas buyers and these programs are essential in finding new markets for American wool as domestic mill consumption has plummeted in the last two decades.

A recent econometric study conducted by agricultural economists at IHS Market and Texas A&M University predicted that doubling funding for these programs would generate an additional $44.4 billion in U.S. agricultural exports during the 2024 to 2029 time period. This would directly benefit farmers, livestock producers, dairy operators and small businesses as they work to maintain and expand their global presence.

“Global competitors keep spending more to promote their exports, but MAP funding hasn’t been increased since 2006 and FMD funding hasn’t changed for two decades,” said Robbie Minnich, senior government relations representative with the National Cotton Council, and chair of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports. “If the programs did not work to open and expand markets for American agricultural products, the private sector would not continue to invest more than 70 percent of the total funding each year. We greatly appreciate Sens. King, Ernst, Smith and Grassley’s recognition and commitment to doubling funding for MAP and FMD.”

The legislation must now be considered within the Senate Agriculture Committee, and the coalition urges the committee to swiftly consider and pass this important bill.

The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports is a group of 150 organizations – including ASI – focused on protecting and enhancing U.S. agricultural export promotion programs to help America’s agricultural industry reach more consumers and compete in a dynamic global marketplace.

 

Ag Groups Want McKalip Confirmed as Negotiator

The American Sheep Industry Association joined dozens of agricultural trade groups this week in calling on the U.S. Senate to confirm Doug McKalip as chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“We write with strong concern over further delay because we are reminded daily of the need for greater attention and emphasis from the administration on agricultural export market growth,” read the letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) “At the end of August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its Fiscal Year 2022 agricultural export forecast and presaged an agricultural trade deficit in FY 2023. The USDA raised the value of exports to $196 billion but also increased the value of agricultural imports to $192 billion, narrowing the agricultural trade surplus to just $4 billion. USDA now forecasts lower agricultural exports for the next fiscal year and again has increased its import projection by another $5 billion, taking a small trade surplus this year and moving into net deficit territory next year. Agricultural trade deficits, once unimaginable, are now reality, underscoring the need to have in place a Senate-confirmed negotiator dedicated to pushing for new agricultural markets and removing barriers to growth in existing ones.

“Fortunately, President Biden has nominated a highly qualified professional in Doug McKalip for the position of chief agricultural negotiator. If confirmed, McKalip would bring to the position decades of experience representing the interests of U.S. agriculture, having served in numerous leadership positions at USDA and the White House. The Senate Finance Committee recently recognized Doug’s impeccable credentials, voting on Sept. 7 to favorably report his nomination to the full Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.”

 

Australian Wool Market Continues to Slide

The Australian wool market was unable to prevent a downward slide this week, recording an overall loss for the fourth consecutive series. Unlike in previous weeks – where most of the losses were felt in the finer Merino types – this week the falls were experienced across all Merino fleece types and descriptions.

From the opening lot prices were noticeably lower, then prices proceeded to fall as the week progressed. By the end of the series, the individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece had dropped by between 7 and 90 cents. The only exception was the 20 micron MPG in Melbourne, which recorded no change.

These falls – combined with losses in the skirting, crossbred and oddment sectors – resulted in a 27-cent drop in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator. The EMI closed the week at 1,279 Australian cents. The last daily rise in the EMI was on Aug. 16, while the last weekly rise in the EMI was back on the June 22. The EMI is now at its lowest point since March 2021.

Buyer sentiment in the crossbred sector was low, resulting in limited demand and weak bidding on many types. The prices on offer were generally 25 to 55 cents lower than those of the previous series. In percentage terms, the crossbreds recorded the largest falls for the series. In the South, the MPGs for 26 micron fell 56 cents (-8 percent), the 28 micron fell 26 cents (-6.9 percent) and the 30 micron MPG fell 31 cents (-9.5 percent). The oddments were the strongest performing sector as the average of the three indicators recorded no change.

Quantities for next week fall, due in part to the lower prices discouraging some sellers from the market. Currently, there are expected to be 31,994 bales on offer in Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney. Selling will move to Wednesday and Thursday due to Public Holidays (Friday in Melbourne and Monday in Fremantle).

Click Here for the Full Australian Wool Market Report.

Source: AWEX

 

ALB Provides Resources to Improve Lamb Quality

Improving the quality and consistency of American lamb continues to be a strategic priority for the Lamb Checkoff.

“We sponsor educational conferences like the Lamb Summit and create educational resources including the Lamb Quality Video Series to help our industry focus on delivering a great eating experience for our consumers,” says Peter Camino, American Lamb Board chairman. “Our industry must commit to improve product quality and consistency to increase our competitiveness.”

During the 2022 Lamb Summit, Travis Hoffman, Ph.D., urged all segments of the industry to “begin with the consumer in mind” while making decisions, starting with genetic selections for animals that deliver quality and yield, feeding and timely marketing for maximum muscle and minimum cover fat, and proper carcass breakdown.

The Lamb Quality Video Series expands on Hoffman’s session, covering Lamb Carcass Characteristics, Quality Grading, Live Lamb Evaluation and USDA Yield Grades. This checkoff-funded series is in cooperation with Premier 1 Supplies, and extension services of North Dakota and Minnesota universities. A fifth video is in the works.

ALB offers a variety of resources to help producers address quality and improve production efficiencies. The 2022 American Lamb Summit section of ALB’s Lamb Resource Center is a great place to start for presentations and news coverage. A series of 12 productivity best practices fact sheets help sheep producers determine steps to help increase their lamb crop. A database of resources from universities, organizations and companies has been compiled, including resources on quality and productivity. ALB has also gathered marketing analysis and reports on its website to assist the industry.

Source: ALB

 

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.

Court of Appeals Reinstates Trump-Era ESA Rules:

On Wednesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Nineth Circuit ruled in favor of reinstating Trump-era rules related to the Endangered Species Act that had been previously vacated.

The rules directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider economic impact when designating endangered species habitats, codified alternative consultation mechanisms for engaging in any action that could impact a listed species and established a timeline for consultations to occur, and prevented the USFWS from treating species listed as “threatened” under the law as “endangered.”

While the ruling re-establishes the policies, the Biden Administration can choose to challenge them again through a full rulemaking and revision process.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on USDA Trade Nominee:

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing this week to discuss a variety of key U.S. Department of Agriculture nominees, including the nominee for under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, Alexis Taylor.

Taylor currently serves as the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, where she oversees agricultural policy directives. She majored in political science and received a minor in communications from Iowa State University. Members of both parties expressed hope for Taylor’s nomination and Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) stated that he hoped her nomination could be approved next week through unanimous consent.

This role – as well as the role of chief agricultural negotiator within the Office of the United States Trade Representative – have been vacant for nearly two years.

Republicans Send Letter to EPA Administrator on WOTUS:

This week, the ranking members of several U.S. House committees sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Conner calling attention to regulatory actions taken by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers that would expand regulatory authority to regulate Waters of the U.S.

Members expressed concern over the lack of accountability accompanying increased bureaucratic authority. They noted their intent to conduct oversight into the issue and request a list of all pending and expected rulemakings on the definition of WOTUS.

Click Here for the letter.

House Ag Committee Farm Bill Conservation Programs Hearing:

The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on Title II conservation programs as it prepares for the upcoming farm bill. Members received input from stakeholders across the agriculture industry about producers’ experiences with conservation programs and potential improvements.

Programs mentioned during the hearing included the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Reserve Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easement. Stakeholders noted difficulty in accessing government assistance and called for increased resources to improve efficiency.

Click Here for a recording of the hearing.

USDA Extends Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Deadline:

USDA has extended the application deadline for Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Cooperative Agreements to Oct. 6.

USDA will invest $12 million for projects that address local natural resource concerns, use climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices and principles, encourage existing and new partnerships through emphasizing equity in advancing the resource needs of underserved communities, or identify and implement strategies to quantify, monitor, report on, and verify conservation benefits associated with grazing management systems.

Click Here for more information.

Source: Cornerstone Government Affairs

 

Livestock Producers Invited to Fencing School

Livestock producers are invited to learn about the latest fencing techniques at the Purdue Fencing School. Topics to be covered include basic fence construction and design, including permanent fencing types, brace construction, fence installation, portable fence options, energizer sizing and installation, and Indiana fence laws and regulations.

The Purdue Fencing School will be held at the Southern Indiana Purdue Agriculture Center, 11371 East Purdue Farm Road, Dubois, Ind., on Oct. 8 from 1-6 p.m. eastern time. The fee is $20, which covers materials, publications and refreshments.

The event will include both classroom and field tour instruction to provide hands-on demonstrations and is hosted with assistance from Indiana Farm Bureau, Gallagher Animal Management and Stay-Tuff Fence Manufacturing.

Registration forms are due by Oct. 3 and are available online. Checks should be made payable to the Purdue CES Education Fund, c/o Purdue Extension – Dubois County, 1482 Executive Blvd., Jasper, Ind. 47546. For more information, contact Jason Tower at 812-678-4427 or towerj@purdue.edu.

Source: Purdue University