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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 Committee Favorably Reports McKalip Nomination

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance favorably reported the nomination of Doug McKalip to serve as Chief Agricultural Negotiator within the U.S. Trade Representative on a unanimous vote. The nominee, Doug McKalip, has previously served in a variety of positions at the United States Department of Agriculture, most recently as a senior advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

McKalip underwent a contentious hearing in July of this year, though the focus was mostly on the Biden Administration’s trade policy efforts, or lack thereof. This nomination will now go to the full Senate for confirmation, but a date has not yet been announced.

Senate EPW Hearing

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to discuss S. 1475, the Livestock Regulatory Protection Act of 2021. S. 1475 would prohibit the issuance of permits for carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, water vapor or methane emission from biological processes associated with livestock production.

In his opening statement, Chairman Tom Carper (Del.) discussed how S. 1475 would take away the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate animal emissions and grant permanent exemption from annual Congressional review. Carper highlighted that the EPA already refrains from issuing such permits because of language sponsored by Sen. John Thune (S.D.) that has been carried in appropriations legislation for several years. The chairman also reminded the committee that using the appropriations bill gives Congress important flexibility.

Sen. Thune’s opening testimony discussed how regulating food emissions would lead to higher costs for consumers already facing increased food prices. He also mentioned that beef production is only responsible for a tiny fraction of U.S. emissions. He added that farmers have already been utilizing feed additives, as well as capturing and utilizing the energy potential of their waste using biodigesters, significantly reducing their emissions. Sen. Thune reminded the committee that the issue isn’t limited to cattle producers, and that passing this legislation would give livestock producers long-term certainty that their livelihood would not be compromised by regulatory overreach.

Scott VanderWal, vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and president of South Dakota Farm Bureau, emphasized that the low emissions from food and livestock production prove that additional emissions regulations by the EPA is not needed. VanderWal noted the tripling of farming productivity across three generations without any additional resources during that period, as well as the improvement of carbon sequestration processes. VanderWal also said that emissions controls would cause unjust burdens on ranchers and farmers, and that Congress must protect these groups from overregulation.

John Walke, director of Clean Energy Project, Climate and Clean Energy Program at the National Resources Defense Council, argued for the rejection of S. 1475, citing the importance of the appropriations process for safeguarding the livestock industry and emphasizing the danger of emissions from livestock production. While other witnesses testified the overall emissions from the agricultural and livestock sectors are low, Walke believes the emissions impact from the agricultural sector is much higher. Walke said that he believes that the agricultural sector should not get a permanent exemption, as the currently constructed appropriations process would do a better job in addressing regulation and compliance.

Railroad Labor Dispute Causes Strike Fears

Fears of a labor strike are rising between railroads and their union workers, as they have yet to reach an agreement on work conditions with harvest right around the corner. Several large railroad companies including BNSF, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National and Union Pacific have reached agreements with five out of the 12 labor unions, but have not yet reached an agreement with the rest.

Earlier this year, the Biden Administration established a three-person emergency board that would work directly with railroads and unions to establish a solution. The emergency board has released a recommendation that would increase wages by 24 percent from 2020 through 2024, with a 14.1 percent increase occurring immediately. The board also suggested changes to health care premiums, benefit enhancements and work rules.

The parties involved have until Sept. 15 to reach a deal before a strike begins. A strike could have detrimental effects on a wide variety of industries, as railroad transportation makes up 30 percent of all national transportation. Several agriculture leaders expect western livestock operations to be the first impacted if a strike were to take place.

Source: Cornerstone Government Affairs


Shearing Schools Set Dates for 2022-23

If you’re interested in learning the art of sheep shearing, now is the time to start making plans to attend a shearing school this fall or next spring. Schools around the United States have (or soon will) set dates for the coming months.

Schools that have submitted their dates to ASI include:

  • The Vermont Shearing School is set for Sept. 10-11. Contact Jim McRae at or call 802-483-2463 for more information.
  • The Montana Wool Harvesting School is scheduled for Oct. 13-16 in Molt, Mont. Contact Denise Hoepfner at to register.
  • A Crutching, Wigging and Catch Pen Dynamics Advanced Shearing Course will be taught by Trevor Hollenbeck on Oct. 14-16 at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center. Visit ly/Crutching2022 for more information.
  • The North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center Shearing School is set for Nov. 19-21 in Hettinger, N.D. For more information, contact Christopher Schauer, Ph.D., at or 701-567-3582.
  • The South Dakota State University Shearing School is scheduled for December at the SDSU Sheep Unit in Brookings, S.D. Contact Kelly Froehlich at or 605-688-5433 for more information.
  • The Wisconsin Shearing School is scheduled for Dec. 15-16. For more information, contact Todd Taylor at
  • The Utah State University Sheep Shearing School is set for Jan. 19-21, 2023, at the USU Animal Science Farm in Wellsville, Utah. Visit for more information.
  • Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., will host a shearing school on March 1-2, 2023. Contact Extension Associate Amy Bax at to register.
  • The Tennessee Sheep Producers Association Sheep Shearing School is scheduled for April 7-8, 2023, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Contact Mark Powell at 615-519-7796 or for more information.
  • Shepherd’s Cross in Claremore, Okla., will host a shearing school on April 13-15, 2023. Visit to register.


Lamb Retail Sales and Market Reports Released

The American Lamb Board announced the release of two reports this week which provide the industry with valuable information for short- and long-term assessment of the American lamb marketplace.

The Second Quarter Retail Sales report (April 10 to July 2) analyzes multi-unit data from food/grocery, drug, mass merchandisers (such as Walmart), club stores (like Sam’s), dollar stores and military commissaries. Key findings are:

  • Despite a higher price point, U.S. consumer demand for lamb remains strong. As of Q2 2021, the average price/lb. of lamb was $8.41, but grew to $9.47/lb. for Q2 2022.
  • While lamb sales largely remained flat between the latest 52 weeks compared to the previous 52 weeks, both dollars and pounds have seen impressive growth between Q2 2021 and Q2 2022, with dollar sales increased 15.7 percent and volume increased 9.3 percent.
  • Easter Week 2022 saw volume sales reach 2.94 million lbs., just shy of Easter 2021 (3.04 million). Given the higher price point, dollar sales in Easter Week 2022 reached $26.8 million, compared to $24.5 million in 2021.
  • Leg sales exploded between Q2 2021 and Q2 2022. Almost the entirety of the volume growth was driven by lamb leg. Leg saw 43.2 percent more pounds sold and a 53.1 percent increase in dollars. Note that this growth is a reflection of Easter sales, which fell in Q2 of 2022 compared to Q2 2021 – Easter sales fell in Q1 in 2021.

Contact Rae Villa for a copy of the full report.

A few weeks is all it takes to see a major shift in the American lamb market. The August Lamb Market Summary – prepared for ALB by the American Sheep Industry Association – found what many industry members suspected. Inflation this year has resulted in a decline in real incomes, impacting consumers’ willingness to pay for lamb. While the Consumer Price Index in July was steady with the prior month, food prices kept increasing, with inflation for food at home and at restaurants 13 percent and 7.6 percent higher, respectively. As a result, the demand for live lambs has declined, resulting in a slowdown in feedlot marketings, heavier lamb weights, a rise in over-finished lambs and high feed costs which has reinforced declining live lamb prices.

“What makes this situation so disheartening is that the primary culprit – inflation – is out of our industry’s control,” said ALB Chairman John Camino. “What the Lamb Board can do short-term is give consumers reasons to choose American lamb. An example is the in-store sampling underway in partnership with Superior Farms.”

“Finding more ways to increase productivity and efficiency is a top priority for the checkoff, so we can be more competitive in the marketplace,” Camino added. “The Lamb Summit showcased much of that work and is just one way we are sharing that information with the industry.”

Monthly lamb market summaries, weekly USDA market reports and year-in-review reports can be found at

Source: ALB


Next Week is Sale Week in Miles City

Quality rams and ewes from across the Big Sky State will gather in Miles City, Mont., next week. The 9th Annual Montana Ewe Sale and 97th Annual Montana Ram Sale will take place Sept. 14-15 at the Eastern Montana Fairgrounds. Kyle Shobe of Lewistown Livestock is overseeing sale management, and Frontier Productions will handle the online sale.

The fun will start on Wednesday with the Montana State University Extension education program in the ram pens at 10 a.m. The seminar will include a morning of hands-on evaluations of rams, including digging deeper into breeding values data, combined with the phenotype of the animal. A lamb loin lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The afternoon session of industry updates will be held in the new event center on the fairgrounds.

At 5 p.m., the buyer’s social will begin in the pavilion. Enjoy snacks and the cash bar – catered by the Bison – as you look over the offering. At 6 p.m., auctioneers Collin Gibbs and Kyle Shobe will take their spots on the auction block to kick off the ewe sale. The offering will include 1,120 head of ewes. The first 220 head will sell on-site, and the remainder will be country-delivery lots. Various wool and meat breeds will be offered.

Thursday is the 97th Annual Ram Sale. Grab a cup of coffee and a sale catalog to look over the offering starting at 7 a.m. Data provided on these bucks includes wool micron, scrapie codon, ribeye data, ratios, National Sheep Improvement Program Estimated Breeding Values, Range Index and much more.

The buyers lamb lunch will begin at 11 a.m. in the pavilion. Leg-of-lamb will be featured, served with sides, rolls and cookies from Reynolds Market and fountain pop from Blue Rock Distributing. The ram sale will begin at noon. More than 300 head of bucks will be offered, in pens of one and two head. Suffolk, Suffolk/Hampshire, Rambouillet, Cormo and Targhee bucks are available.

Click Here for sale details, catalogs and directions to register to bid online.

Source: MWGA


Losses Recorded in Australian Wool Market

The Australian wool market recorded an overall loss again this series, driven predominantly by falls in fine Merino fleece types. The national offering increased by 1,818 bales to 37,352 bales. The total amount offered this season continues to track above the previous year. There have been 34,309 more bales offered compared to the corresponding sale of the 2021-22 season – an increase of 12.2 percent.

From the opening of the series, it was immediately apparent that the prices buyers were prepared to pay for fine Merino fleece types had been significantly reduced. These prices continued to fall as the sale progressed. By the end of the week, the individual Micron Price Guides across the country for 18.5 micron and finer had lost between 15 and 135 cents. In contrast, buyer sentiment on the medium/broad Merino fleece types was strong and the prices on offer for good style and spec wools 19 micron and coarser were at or above those achieved in the previous series. This was reflected in the MPGs for 19 to 22 micron, which ranged from fully firm to 30 cents dearer.

The ups and downs in the Merino fleece – combined with minimal movements in the skirting, oddment and crossbred sectors (with the exception of the 26 micron MPG, which increased by 3.7 percent) – had the net result of an 11-cent fall in the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator. The EMI closed the week at 1,319 Australian cents.

Due to a weaking in the Australian dollar – the AUD fell 1.66 U.S. cents since the end of the previous series – when viewed in USD terms, the fall in the EMI was larger. The EMI lost 29 U.S. cents for the week – a reduction of 3.2 percent.

Quantities for next week are expected to rise again. Currently, there are 39,719 bales expected on offer in Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney.

Source: AWEX


Sheep Housing and Facilities Webinar Set for Tuesday

North Dakota State University Extension and University of Minnesota Extension will host a housing and facilities webinar focused on sheep and goat housing considerations at 7 p.m. central time on Tuesday.

Beginning ranchers and those looking to diversify their livestock operations will learn more about sheep and goat housing and handling systems.

“When building new or retrofitting an existing barn, producers should consider the number and size of animals to determine space requirements for now and the future of your sheep and goat operation,” says Erin Cortus, UMN Extension engineer in sustainable livestock production, facilities and housing. “Considerations also include ventilation, utilities and manure management.”

“This is the continuation of our monthly series of webinars addressing the needs of beginning farmers,” says Travis Hoffman, UMN and NDSU Extension sheep specialist. “Our fall 2022 webinar efforts will discuss topics for producers looking to start raising sheep and goats.”

Pre-registration is required. Visit for more information and registration. Attendees will receive the Zoom link upon registration. Past webinars can be found on YouTube at the U of M Extension Sheep and Goats channel. For questions, contact Brenda Miller at or Hoffman at

Source: Jamestown Sun


Video of the Week

Footage of men and women covered in black oil and emerging from a swimming pool is part of a new international ad campaign to sell more wool. Levy-funded research and marketing group Australian Wool Innovation launched the new ad campaign to highlight the sustainability of wool, compared to synthetic textiles. The ad, which will run in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Australia, depicts people swimming in a pool of black oil, struggling to get out.

Click Here to watch the video.

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