Sheep Industry News December 2023

President’s Notes BRAD BONER ASI PRESIDENT ASI Closes Trade Case Investigation

B ased on advice from legal counsel, the ASI Executive Board has decided not to pursue a trade case against lamb importers at this time. Back in May, ASI hired a top law firm in Washington, D.C., and agreed to fund preliminary investigations into violations of United States trade law by lamb importers. Two cases were recommended: countervailing duty (subsidized pro duction) and anti-dumping (sales below production costs or at prices lower in the United States than in a home market). ASI contributed more than $55,000 from the Guard Dog Fund as the Executive Board met multiple times on the topic. Confidential injury surveys were sent to hundreds of sheep producers, lamb feeders and lamb companies in June and July to provide necessary information for the law firm to consider the possibilities of success in pursuing the case. Thirty-five sheep producers, six lamb feeders and two lamb companies completed the confidential surveys and returned them to the law firm before the deadline. The firm – which won a section 201 trade case for ASI in 1999 – found evidence of “material” injury from imports within the last three-year window but was unable to find significant “dumping” margins which nullified any potential relief available to the domestic industry. For these reasons, and following the advice of lawyers well versed in trade law, ASI decided against pursuing the case fur ther at this time. Considering the total cost to pursue the case, it didn’t seem prudent to go against the legal opinions of those who are experts in trade law. This was the third trade investigation of lamb imports involving ASI in the past six years. The memorandum from the law firm is clear that none of the three United States trade laws provide a successful path to impacting lamb imports or American lamb prices. The memorandum further clarifies that legislating restrictions such as quotas or tariffs via the U.S. Congress is not viable. There are examples in agriculture of commodities that have statutory import controls such as the beef industry, which was legislated in 1964 as the Meat Import Act. Several updates were done by Congress in 1969, 1978 and 1986, and all specifically excluded lamb under the restrictions. Decades have passed since Con gress restricted imports by statute. ASI successfully fought against the U.S. Department of Agriculture rule allowing sheep and sheep product importation from countries banned in the late 1990s due to cattle BSE. A rule was proposed to drop the ban in 2009, however the associa tion kept the ban in place through 2020. Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.) introduced legislation this congress that will halt USDA from implementing the rule issued by the Biden Administration to allow importation from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada and Europe until a study has been completed on the disease and health protocols in place. Until next time, keep it on the sunny side.

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