2015 Sheep Industry in Review

ASI Celebrates 150th Anniversary – 2015 was dedicated to the observation of the sheep industry being the oldest livestock association in the United States. We owe a great debt of gratitude to those producers who saw a need and a purpose to organize as the National Wool Growers in 1865. Industry work is still done collectively to promote the virtues, policy and profitability to each of our farms and ranches.

H-2A Sheepherder Special Provisions – The Department of Labor proposed changes to the H-2A special procedures for sheepherding. Adoption of one of the wage methodologies proposed by the sheep industry updates the salary while retaining most of the provisions that have been in place for decades that allow our industry to use this important program.

Scrapie Rule – The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposed changes to the scrapie rule amending changes to the risk groups, increasing the use of genetic testing, reducing movement restrictions and modifying recordkeeping requirements. Comments were due by Dec. 9 and the industry now waits for the release of the final rule.

Domestic and Bighorn Interaction – Legislation signed into law in December 2015 directs the Forest Service to identify allotments suitable for sheep grazing, to engage with the Agricultural Research Service to ensure the best scientific understanding of where disease transmission occurs and to identify and implement actions to resolve issues on allotments with a high risk of disease transmission.

Let’s Grow Funds Projects – In two rounds of grant reviews, the Let’s Grow Committee awarded 26 grants infusing more than $450,000 into the industry to improve productivity efficiencies.

Lamb Retains COOL – Country of Origin Labeling was preserved for the U.S. lamb industry while it was repealed for beef and pork. ASI policy has long supported the identification of lamb.

MPR Reauthorized – Mandatory Price Reporting was reauthorized through 2020. Proposed changes to the program will result in a greater volume of information being available to lamb producers to utilize in making their selling decisions.

Section 32 Lamb Buys – The Agricultural Marketing Service issues three separate lamb buys resulting in the movement of 1.4 million pounds of lamb leg, shank and shoulder and leg roasts valued at more than $7.5 million. These purchases are key to counter the influx of cheap product moving into our market because of the strength of the U.S. dollar and to supporting lamb prices at the farm and ranch gate.

USSES Stays Open in 2015 – Language was included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill to reject the President’s budget request regarding the termination of research programs, redirection of research programs or closure of research locations, to include the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station.

ASI Market App Gets Updates – Two calculators were added to the ASI Market App – a wool calculator and a gestation calculator. In addition, a breakeven calculator, additional Eastern lamb markets, direct links to auction barns and hay reports were added. The calculators are available for both android and iPhone users and can be downloaded through your App Store by searching for ASI Market News.

Sheep and Lamb Inventory – The sheep and lamb inventory as of Jan. 1, 2015, increased by 1 percent from the same time in 2014.

LRP-Lamb Insurance – The sale of the industries Livestock Risk Protection-Lamb insurance resumed on May 4 providing producers protection against unexpected declines in market prices.