Sheep Industry News March 2023

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SheepIndustry NEWS Volume 27, Issue 3 March 2023

SheepIndustry NEWS Volume 27, Issue 3 March 2023

A Look Inside 10 Mid-StatesWool Growers Closing in Fall 38 The Last Word: Fighting Antibiotic Resistance If you attended the ASI Annual Convention, you know we’ve been talking about efforts to address antibiotic resistance. Chances are you already know that by this June antibiotics that we now get over the counter will require a vet's prescription. 14 ASI Elects Officers, Executive Board As he works through the transition process to step away from a daily role on his family’s fifth-generation ranch outside Casper, Wyo., Brad Boner stepped into a new role during the ASI An nual Convention in mid-January in Fort Worth, Texas. Just five years after celebrating its 100th anniversary, Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative has decided to cease operations later this year. The cooperative’s board voted in favor of the closure in December 2022.


Dalton Long of Oregon submitted this photo of Kelsey with a newborn spring lamb in last year's ASI Photo Contest.

Departments 4 President’s Notes 6 Market Report 9 ASI Member Listing 32 Obituary 34 Sheep Health 35 Breeders’ Directory 37 Industry Calendar

20 ASI Annual Awards

March 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 3


Hello FromWyoming

A s the newly elected president of this great organization, I thought as part of my first column I should tell you all a little about myself. My wife, Laurie, and I live and work on our family’s ranch near Glenrock, Wyo. Our son, Ryan, manages the day-to-day operations of the ranch. About 60 percent of the animal units we run come from sheep. We have Targhee-Rambouillet ewes that are bred to pas ture lamb, starting in mid-May. The other 40 percent of our animal units are made up of Angus cows. Half are commercial cows and half are registered seedstock. We have an annual bull sale in March at the ranch. Ryan’s twin sister, Meghan, and her husband, Jake, live in Casper, Wyo., where Jake is a physical therapist and Meghan does the very important job of being mom to grandsons, Meyer and Owen. Being a grandparent is one of the greatest joys of our life! Our oldest son, Braden, and his wife, Amanda, also live in Casper where Braden works for a local trucking com pany. We enjoy following their kids, Logan and Kaylie, in all their school activities. As I am sure it is with many of you, fam ily is a huge part of our life and we are so blessed to have them all close to us giving us the opportunity to spend time with them all. I have served on the board and as president of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association. I also served on the board of directors and as president of Mountain States Lamb Cooperative. A synopsis of our stated goals for ASI in 2023 include:

1. Continue to be a proactive force on legislative issues ef fecting sheep producers. This year is a “Farm Bill Year” so in addition to our regular legislative activities at ASI, much time and effort will be placed making sure the new Farm Bill contains those items that are properly supportive of the American sheep industry. 2. Continue the financial review study committee. Continue to identify and vet potential sources and op tions for future funding.

3. Increase communication within the ASI organization and with outside stakeholders. Communications is always an area that can be improved. It is very important that we have great communication with our industry members, affiliates and partners in order to be the most effective and efficient in all our efforts. A few examples are: a. Promote the benefits that ASI delivers to all producers. Continue to market and promote ASI’s website, the Sheep Industry News , ASI Research Update podcast and ASI Weekly newsletter as sources of valuable information. b. Develop a framework to ensure the success of the Young Entrepreneur committee on the national level. c. Continue quarterly meetings with state executives. 4. Continue to work closely with ALB and NSIIC in order to capitalize on the strengths of a unified Industry. As always, ASI will continue to put tremendous efforts toward growing wool markets both domestically and internation ally in an effort to grow the number of customers for American wool around the world. I look forward to serving this GREAT organization and its most amazing people for the next two years. If I can be helpful, please reach out to me.

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SheepIndustry NEWS March 2023: Volume 27, Issue 3

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ASI Office Staff: Peter Orwick, Executive Director Rita Kourlis Samuelson, Deputy Director/Wool Marketing Larry Kincaid, Chief Financial Officer Erica Sanko, Director of Analytics & Production Programs Zahrah Khan, Operations Manager Christa Rochford, Wool Marketing Programs Manager Heather Pearce, Wool Production Programs Manager Chris Jones, Administrative Assistant The Sheep Industry News is published monthly as the official publication of the American Sheep Industry Association Inc. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Payment of member dues in an ASI affiliated state organization entitles a member to a subscription. For non-members, the subscription rate is $50 per year. ADVERTISING INFORMATION: Rates available at Deadline is the fifth of the month preceding the cover date. All advertising is subject to publisher’s approval. Advertisers must assume all liability for their advertising content. Publisher maintains the right to cancel advertising for nonpayment or reader complaint about service or product. Publisher assumes no liability for products or services advertised in Sheep Industry News .

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Market Report

LMIC Offers Sheep & Lamb Outlook

LIVESTOCK MARKETING INFORMATION CENTER T the American flock. On Jan. 1, all sheep and lambs totaled 5.020 million head, down 45,000 head – or less than 1 percent (0.9) – continuing the marginal downward trend in supplies. The breeding sheep and lambs reported a decline of 45,000 head – or 1.2 percent – to 3.665 million head. The decline in the breeding flock was slightly above historical trends, which have typically been just below a 1-percent decline. Looking further into the breeding flock, NASS reported ewes 1 year and older at 2.870 million head, down 1.4 percent or 40,000 head. Replacement lambs were 635,000 head, down 5,000 head or less than 1 percent (0.8). Ram inventories held steady at 160,000 head. MARKET LAMBS From a year earlier, market lambs increased slightly by 0.2 per cent – 3,000 head – to 1.280 million head. Declines in the under 65 pounds and 65 to 85 pounds categories were more than offset by gains in the 85 to 105 pounds and over 105 pounds categories. he annual sheep inventory report was released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service giving further insights into supplies of

Over 105 pounds market lambs were 483,000 head, up by less than 1 percent (0.8) or 4,000 head. The 85 to 105 pounds category increased 13,000 head (4.9 percent) to 279,000 head from last year. Lower levels were seen in the under 65 pounds and 65 to 85 pounds categories, down 2.9 percent (10,000 head) and 2.1 per cent (4,000 head), respectively, to 335,000 and 183,000 head. A 3,000 head decrease in the number of market sheep to 75,000 head led to a total market sheep and lambs of 1.355 million head, which is even with the prior year. LAMB CROP AND LAMBING PERCENTAGE The American lamb crop fell by 1.6 percent – or 50,000 head – to 3.110 million head with California reporting the largest de crease of 25,000 head – 10.4 percent – to 215,000 head. The Texas lamb crop fell 5,000 head – 1.4 percent – to 345,000 head, while Wyoming decreased 10,000 head – 4.2 percent – to 230,000 head. Colorado, Idaho and Montana all had declines in their lamb crop of 5,000 head. South Dakota, Oregon and Utah held steady with a year ago while Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Minnesota saw gains from 1,000 to 5,000 head. The national average lambing percent age tallied at 106.9 percent, which is in line with the historical av

erage during the last 10 years and slightly better than last year’s 106.8 percentage.

SUMMARY AND MARKET OUTLOOK Taking a step back from the details of the report, we can glean that supplies are still on a general decline with all sheep and lambs down 0.9 percent and a breed ing flock 1.2 percent lower. Productivity – based on the lambing percentage of 106.9 percent – is holding steady near the 107 percent average mark during the last 10 years. Looking into 2023 and 2024, there are three main factors LMIC is expect ing to influence the forecast for sheep and lamb inventory levels and prices: 1. drought and feed; 2. lamb demand; and 3. lamb imports. Drought and Feed: Drought is ex pected to persist into 2023 with much of the western United States continuing to

6 • Sheep Industry News •

grapple with drought effects on feed and forage supplies, especial ly hay. The latest Drought Monitor map – released on Feb. 9 – is showing D3 and D4 (Extreme and Exceptional Drought) stretch ing through a large portion of Kansas and Oklahoma. Pockets of D3 and D4 drought are also in parts of northern Montana, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wyoming and even over to Nevada, Utah and Oregon. The continued drought only worsened the hay supply situation. Nationally, Dec. 1, 2022, hay supplies were down 9 percent from last year and more than 6 percent below the previous record low. Alfalfa production decreased 2.6 percent due to a record low num ber of harvested acres. A similar story can be said for other hay production, which de clined 8.6 percent due to smaller yields and lower harvested acres. The lower hay production has led to record hay prices, which has limited available feed and forage. This is expected to increase feed costs and potentially limit profitability in 2023 and 2024. Lamb Demand: In 2022, per capita lamb consumption at the retail level was 1.28 pounds per person, which is the second high est since the earlier 1990s, behind 1.36 pounds per person in 2021. LMIC is expecting per capita lamb consumption to be about 1.27 pounds per person in 2023 and 1.23 pounds in 2024, largely based on stabilizing lamb demand, post-pandemic. While per capita consumption levels are expected to remain above 1.2 pounds per person, the lamb cutout value has also

tracked above typical levels, an indication of lamb demand strength. At the start of 2022, the lamb cutout value was above typical levels at $618 per cwt., but gradually moved lower to about $475 at the end of the year. At the start of 2023, the lamb cutout value has been averaging $465 per cwt., more than $100 above typical levels. Relative strength or weakness in the lamb cutout value moving through 2023 will be an indicator of lamb demand and a factor underlying slaughter and feeder lamb prices. Lamb Imports: In 2022, total lamb imports were 278 million pounds, up 5.2 percent from last year. Australia accounted for three quarters (74.8 percent) of total lamb imports in 2022 at 207.5 million pounds – an increase of 6.2 percent. Imports from New Zealand increased by less than 1 percent (0.8) to 64.9 million pounds, accounting for 23.4 percent of total imports last year. As of this writing, Australia was projecting record lamb pro duction of 567,000 tonnes (1.25 billion pounds) in 2023, which they expect to flow into higher export levels. The United States market will likely be a destination where Australia will be looking to send lamb in 2023. This is expected to keep lamb imports in 2023 at a level similar to the 278 million pounds imported in 2022. Based on the points discussed above, LMIC is forecasting sheep and lamb slaughter levels to hold about even with 2022 – just under 2.1 million head. Producers are likely to continue facing

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drought related impacts which will drive production decisions. In 2024, sheep and lamb slaughter are forecast to decline less than 1 percent to just over 2.0 million head, which is based on the expectation that the breeding flock will decrease about 1 percent, but the lambing percentage will hold steady around 107 percent yielding a lamb crop just below 3.1 million head on Jan. 1, 2024. Feeder and slaughter lamb prices in 2023 and 2024 are expected to track closer to pre-pandemic levels. Feeder lamb prices (three-market average Colo., S.D., and Texas) are forecast to be $181 to $189 in 2023, with marginal improvements in 2024 to $181 to $193 per cwt. Slaughter lamb prices (national negotiated live) are forecast to range from $137 to $145 per cwt. depending on the quarter. Prices are expected to improve in 2024 with a range of $145 to $157 per cwt.

Wool Production Stabilizes, Prices Still Volatile

ERICA SANKO ASI Director of Analytics & Production Programs I n January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the annual sheep inventory report, which stated wool produc tion totaled 22.22 million pounds in 2022, down 1 percent – 227,000 pounds – from 2021. The decline was due to less sheep shorn at 3.17 million head as the average wool production per head was steady at 7.0 pounds. This was the smallest year-to-year decline in the number of sheep shorn and wool production since 2015. On a state basis, California was the top producer at 2.23 million pounds, followed by Wyoming (2.17 million pounds), Colorado (2.10 million pounds) and Utah (2.02 million pounds). Australian wool prices have been steadily improving since last summer, as the market is showing indications that manufactur ers are intending to or are close to returning to pre-pandemic levels. Market demand continues to favor finer, better-style wools with prices showing the most gains in recent weeks. Coarser wools are still struggling to find price support in the current market environment. Appreciation in the Australian dollar in recent months has had an impact on American wool prices, however, the U.S. dollar is expected to remain strong in 2023. Since the start of the new year, the Australian Eastern Market Indicator has climbed 67 cents kg clean – 5 percent – with prices

across all micron categories except for 26 micron posting notable gains. In January, the Australian EMI averaged 1,342 cents kg clean, 4 percent lower than the prior year but 10 percent stron ger than in 2021. In early February, the EMI reached A$6.35 per lb. (US$4.43 per lb.), the highest weekly price since the first week of July of last year. Prices for the finer wool market – 17 to 21 microns – in Janu ary were a bit mixed, with prices for 17 to 19 microns below a year ago while 20 micron and 21 micron wools posted 4 percent year-over-year gains. The supply side is most likely supporting the 21 micron wools since Australia is not a large producer of these wools. Prices for finer wools have been gaining in value as the season has progressed. While the market for coarser wool has seen some price increases recently, it is still struggling as there is not much demand for these wools, with 26 to 29 microns averaging 20 percent lower than last January. It is still a challenge to predict the wool market given the eco nomic environment. The current demand outlook is optimistic and is providing support to the wool market. If demand contin ues to improve, prices should increase further. However, there is still much uncertainty in the market as inflation rates and interest rates remain high, while high energy prices in some markets – such as Europe – continue to have an impact on the wool market.

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National Lamb Feeders Association 605-224-0224 • Nebraska Sheep & Goat Producers Association 308-386-8378 • NevadaWool Growers Association 775-934-8860 • New Hampshire Sheep &Wool Growers Garden State Sheep Breeders Inc. (N.J.) 609-947-2260 • New MexicoWool Growers Inc. 505-247-0584 • Empire Sheep Producers Cooperative (N.Y.) 585-367-2775 • North Carolina Sheep Producers Assoc. Inc. 919-522-4110 • North Dakota Lamb &Wool Producers Assoc. 701-333-8009 • Ohio Sheep Improvement Association 614-499-2931 • Oregon Sheep Growers Association 503-364-5462 • Pennsylvania Sheep &Wool Growers Association 814-880-3314 • South Carolina Sheep Industries Association 864-360-3222 • South Dakota Sheep Growers Association 406-581-7772 • Tennessee Sheep Producers Association 615-519-7796 • Texas Sheep & Goat Raisers’ Association 325-655-7388 • UtahWool Growers Association 435-915-6119 • Vermont Sheep & Goat Association 802-899-2104 • Virginia Sheep Producers Association 540-231-9159 • Washington State Sheep Producers 360-999-8118 • West Virginia Shepherds Federation 304-445-1516 • Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative 608-743-9080 •

Alabama Meat Goat & Sheep Producers 334-613-4221 • ASI Women 435-528-7570 • ArizonaWool Producers Association 520-560-4202 • Arkansas State Sheep Council 870-853-7404 • CaliforniaWool Growers Association 916-444-8122 • ColoradoWool Growers Association 970-874-1433 • Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association 860-819-8339 • Meat Sheep Alliance of Florida 352-502-2564 • Georgia Sheep &Wool Growers Association 706-340-1098 • Hawaii Sheep and Goat Association 808-775-8075 • IdahoWool Growers Association 208-344-2271 • Illinois Lamb &Wool Producers Inc. 573-205-9208 • Indiana Sheep Association 317-896-2213 • Kentucky Sheep &Wool Producers Association 502-682-7780 • Maine Sheep Breeders Association 207-324-1582 • Maryland Sheep Breeders Association 410-746-5768 • Massachusetts Federation of Sheep Associations 508-829-4556 • Michigan Sheep Producers Association 616-610-5628 • Minnesota Lamb &Wool Producers Association 320-760-5727 • Missouri Sheep Producers Inc. Iowa Sheep Industry Association 641-625-4248 • Kansas Sheep Association 620-393-5204 •

Brad Boner Wyoming President

Ben Lehfeldt Montana Vice President

Joe Pozzi California Secretary/Treasurer

573-578-0497 • MontanaWool Growers Association 406-442-1330 •

Peter Orwick Colorado Executive Director

WyomingWool Growers Association 307-265-5250 •

March 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 9

Mid-States Wool Growers Closing in Fall of 2023

J ust five years after celebrating its 100th anniversary, Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative has decided to cease operations later this year. The cooperative’s board voted in favor of the closure in December 2022. A letter to producers went out in Janu ary 2023. But the company is continuing to take wool until May 1 with hopes of liquidating remaining wool by this fall. The building – a state-of-the-art setup that opened in 1995 – and land it sits on in the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Canal Winchester will be sold. That will be the easy part, given the growing nature of the area. “When we built it, the place was surrounded by farms,” said Mid-States General Manger Dave Rowe. “But it’s a high-growth area now.” Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the American wool market. This is especially true for the medium to coarse wools that make up much of what Mid-States brings in on a yearly basis. “The wool market has been more than difficult the last three years,” Rowe said. “Even before Covid, the market was struggling. It’s been difficult for everyone involved. We’ve seen a decrease in sheep numbers as well as producers moving to hair sheep. Costs are up and whether you want to believe it or not, inflation is very real.” Rowe said much of the wool he’s taken in since 2019 is still sit ting in the warehouse. But he’s working diligently to move as much of it as possible. “Some of the buyers have been very good at helping us with that,” he said. “We’re still taking wool until May 1, but we don’t see a lot of wool in the spring in this part of the country. We tend to have more coming in late summer and fall as our producers are get ting ready to lamb in the fall.” But Mid-States isn’t just a wool warehouse. The cooperative also

new challenges in the Midwest especially. “The Mid-States Wool Cooperative has been a valuable asset to sheep producers for generations not only in Ohio but throughout the Midwest,” said ASI Past President Susan Shultz. “Mid-States was the warehouse where we marketed our wool and purchased our supplies. I was honored to help represent ASI at their centen nial celebration and it brought back fond memories of all the good people past and present who have represented Mid-States, includ ing Paul Getz and Don Van Nostran, respected leaders in our industry.” Mid-States operated differently from large warehouses in the Western United States. Because it brought in wool from mostly small farm flocks, Mid-States generally worked with shearers and producers to coordinate the collection of wool. Shearers would take the wool home and stockpile it for months at a time. That allowed Mid-States to collect larger quantities of wool at regional hubs, but the increased cost of trucking was always challenging. “A large percentage of our wool isn’t just coming through the door on its own,” Rowe said. “We might get 30,000 pounds of wool from three to four stops, but there’s quite a few producers in that amount.” Through its 105 years in business, the cooperative survived wars, depressions, and previous downturns in the economy and the industry. Rowe said it was nice to celebrate the 100-year milestone in 2018, and that it wouldn’t have been possible without the loyal support of producers and employees along the way. “There are a lot of people who should be celebrated that made that happen,” he said. “Now, we just want to thank everyone who has supported us through the years.”

operated a supply store that has long served the Mid western sheep industry. The store will close, as well, but continues to operate with the inventory on hand. “Without both sides of the operation contributing to the bottom line, it just isn’t feasible to keep either of them,” Rowe said. “We’re glad that we were able to serve customers through the store for so many years, but there’s no way to salvage one part of the business without the other. And besides, the sign out front says, ‘Mid-States Wool Growers.’ That’s who we are, and we can’t be that anymore in the current wool market.” The loss of infrastructure is a tough blow for the entire American sheep industry, but will bring about

10 • Sheep Industry News •

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March 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 11

ASI Awards Shearing Grants T he American Sheep Industry Association announced this week that eight shearers and two mentors will receive funds through the association’s shearer grant program. Grant re cipients were chosen by members of a select committee from ASI’s Wool Council. The program – first introduced in 2022 – will provide $1,500 to each developing shearer to help cover the cost of equipment and other expenses as they work toward improving their shearing skills. Shearers will receive $500 at the beginning of the program and work with a mentor to gain confidence and improve shearing qual ity and speed. At the completion of the program, the shearers will receive $1,000. Shearing mentors will earn $1,500 to help cover the costs accumulated while mentoring students.

Shearers for the program shear in the East, Midwest, Moun tain States and the West. Students selected for the 2023 program include: • James Powers of New York (pictured at left). • Mark Burenheide of Nebraska.

• Todd Dixon of Montana. • Tirzah Gunther of Ohio. • Leslie Sullivan of Vermont. • Erik House of Arizona.

• Dakota Wilson of Montana. • Leeland Prock of Oregon. Mentors accepted into the program include Mary Lake of Ver mont and Mick Hofmann of Arizona. Loans Available Through NLPA NATIONAL LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS ASSOCIATION T he National Livestock Producers Association Sheep & Goat Innovation Fund Committee took action at its recent meet ing to leave its interest rates available to projects to improve • Create opportunities for adding value to sheep products. • Grow the sheep and goat industries in the United States. According to Miller – a Texas sheep producer – the fund is being

used to benefit all sectors of the sheep and goat industries. “Currently loans have been made in many areas, including genetic development, sheep and goat dairies, lamb and goat meat processing, and fiber processing,” Miller said. “The sheep and goat industries are in need of creative ideas that will add value to sheep and goats and the products they provide. The fund encourages industry members to evaluate the immediate needs in their area, gather support from others who recognize those needs, and work together to find the most effective solutions to local concerns.” The purpose of the fund has been to assist in financing projects beyond the farm gate; however, recently the fund was given the ability to make term loans to producers for the purpose of flock and herd expansion. “We are able to make simple, five-year term loans for breeding animals with a fixed interest rate,” said Miller. “Our committee will consider any worthwhile project that will benefit our industry.” For more information or an application please contact the NLPA Sheep & Goat Innovation Fund at 800-237-7193. The application is also available at

the sheep and goat industries unchanged. “We are in place to assist the U.S. sheep and goat industries,” said Pierce Miller, chairman of the committee. “With runaway interest rates recently, we wanted to show our commitment to our industry and those needing loan assistance by not raising our rates.” The fund is the result of a joint effort of the American Sheep Industry Association and the National Livestock Producers As sociation. “We are working to make loans to producers, processors and manufacturers to help to stabilize and build the industry,” Miller said. “The fund has already helped the industry by establishing loans that have reasonable risk but may otherwise not be consid ered by most banks.” The goals of the fund are to: • Make capital available for enhancing business methods and services. • Improve marketing efficiency and product quality. • Promote coordination and cooperation within the industry.

12 • Sheep Industry News •

Sheep In Spotlight At Range Conference T he Society for Range Management hosted a Range Sheep Production Systems workshop as part of its 2023 Annual Meeting in mid-February in Boise, Idaho. The workshop included a panel discussion featuring Western sheep producers Reed Anderson, John Helle, Bianca Soares and Mike Guerry. Other speakers at the conference included: Montana's Brent Ro eder; the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station's Brett Taylor and Hailey Wilmer; Wyoming's Derrick Scasta; California's Dan Macon; and Idaho's Melinda Ellison.

Apply Now for NLFA Leadership School Applications are now available for the National Lamb Feeder As sociation’s Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School. Ap plications for the school are due by April 1 and should be emailed to The 2023 school will be conducted in Columbus, Ohio, on

July 9-13. There is no fee to apply, but individuals must be 20 years of age or older to attend. Preference will be given to young produc ers ages 20 to 40. Students of the school are responsible for their own travel to and from the tour site, as well as a $250 registration fee that covers all subsequent meals, lodging, supplies and other tour-related expenses. The application is available at uploads/2023/02/2023-HWSILS-Application.pdf.

March 2023 • Sheep Industry News • 13

ASI Elects Officers, Executive Board in Fort Worth

A s he works through the transition process to step away from a daily role on his family’s fifth-generation ranch outside Casper, Wyo., Brad Boner stepped into a new role during the ASI Annual Convention in mid-January in Fort Worth, Texas. He will serve as ASI president for the next two years after unani mous election on Saturday, Jan. 21, by the ASI Board of Directors. Boner joined ASI’s officer team in 2019 when he was first elected secretary/treasurer after representing Region VII on the ASI Execu tive Board. He was elevated to vice president in 2021 and now takes over as president from Susan Shultz of Ohio. “I thought about this day occasionally the last few years,” said Boner. “But it’s not something I thought about much before today. We’re blessed with such great people in this organization, and it’s so much fun to work with them to lead the industry. There’s no back ing out now, so here we go.” The family ranch includes both ewe-lamb and cow-calf opera tions along with selling Black Angus seedstock. Brad and his wife, Laurie, have three children who all live close to the home place, but only Ryan works on the ranch on a daily basis. Ryan’s involvement allows his parents to spend additional time with their grandchil dren. “This generational transition is an interesting process,” Boner said. “As was alluded to by a few other speakers this week, there comes a point where it’s time for the next generation to step up and start doing what they can do. That’s where we’re headed. Plus, that grandparent thing is pretty cool stuff.” Boner is joined on the ASI officer team by Montana’s Ben Lehfeldt as vice president and California’s Joe Pozzi as secretary/ treasurer. Pozzi – a former member of ASI’s Executive Board from Region VIII – ran unopposed for the secretary position. “I’m looking forward to working with Joe,” Boner said. “What an innovator and entrepreneur he is in this industry. I believe he’ll be a great addition to our team for the next several years.” In addition, Virginia’s Lisa Weeks in Region II and New Mexico’s Bronson Corn in Region VI were reelected to second terms on the ASI Executive Board. Lynn Fahrmeier of Missouri was selected to represent Region IV, while Ryan Indart of California was elected from Region VIII. Steve Clements and Sarah Smith of those respec tive regions were term-limited and not eligible for reelection. The National Lamb Feeders Association elected Kate Harlan of Wyo ming to fill the NFLA representative spot on the ASI Executive Board. She replaces her father, Bob Harlan, who also wasn’t eligible for reelection.

That team will have to hit the ground running in 2023 as Congress debates funding for the next Farm Bill. The ASI Executive Board established a list of goals for 2023 late last year and the top priority is to continue to be a “proactive force on legislative issues effecting sheep producers.” Priorities for the industry in the new farm bill include issues such as reauthorizing an updated marketing loan program for wool, extending the wool manufacturing Sheep Production and Marketing Grant program, and Wool Apparel Manufacturers Trust Fund/U.S. Wool Research in addition to funding U.S. Department of Agriculture export programs. “We’re going to spend a lot of time this year on the Farm Bill,” said Boner. “I just have to keep plugging away at everything I can to keep this industry moving forward. We’ve been blessed with a lot of great leadership in the past, so there’s some pressure not to disap point.” The ASI Board of Directors approved more than two dozen poli cies to govern the association for the next five years and welcomed comments from Rep. August Pflugar of Texas and USDA Deputy Under Secretary Katie Zenk regarding federal priorities of the na tion’s sheep industry. The next ASI Annual Convention is scheduled for Jan. 10-13, 2024, in Denver.

14 • Sheep Industry News •

Animal Agriculture Depends on Sustainability


A nimal agriculture is a sustainable component of our global food system, according to Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, director of Colorado State University’s AgNext program, and trends indicate that documenting the ecosystem services it provides will rise in economic importance in the future. While there are different views on sustainability, Stackhouse Lawson defines it as continuously improving the social, economic and environmental stewardship of the animal agricultural system. The result ensures a safe and nutritious food supply. When it comes to the public’s view of climate change and its contributing factors, science and emotion are on equal footing. But when it comes down to competition between the two, emotion wins every time, she said. In the public debate over greenhouse gas emissions, contributions from grazing ruminants such What gets overlooked is that livestock allows humans to produce food on land that is unsuitable for cultivation while enhancing ecosystems, Stackhouse-Lawson said, and the rangelands they graze store 20 percent of the globe’s soil organic carbon. That’s part of the story we in animal agricul ture need to tell, but it’s important that we have good data to back our claims, she said. As more com panies make commitments to net zero or carbon neutrality, financial institutions are using green bonds, green loans and other systems under a “sustainable finance” umbrella, so animal agricul ture has much to offer for companies focused on natural capital. With more than 1,400 publicly traded companies stating their commitment to achieve net zero emissions or carbon neutrality at some point in the near future, our financial institutions are increas ingly turning their attention to the climate impacts, she said. For example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed that publicly traded companies be required to disclose their Scope 3 emissions data in corporate filings. That would mean that in addition to direct greenhouse emissions from sources a company owns or controls – called Scope 1 – it would be required to also account for indirect emis sions from purchased electricity – Scope 2 – as well as all other indirect emissions that occur throughout a company’s value chain – Scope 3. as cattle are increasingly targeted, despite the fact that domestic animal agriculture emissions are responsible for only about 4 percent of the na tion’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet when a company commits to net zero, it rarely knows how or has plans to achieve these Scope 3 emissions reductions – even though these emissions account for more than 90 percent of emis sions for consumer food companies. To achieve the Biden Administration’s goals to reduce climate impacts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed adop tion of alternative manure strategies and other methane-reduction efforts, as well as expansion of on-farm generation and the use of renewable energy. Other priorities for the ag sector include devel opment of climate-smart agricultural commodities and increased investments in agriculture methane quantifications. That’s one of the reasons why Stackhouse-Lawson’s AgNext program is so important. The CSU facility includes a Climate Smart Pen installation that is the largest public institu tion research facility of its kind. The facility design

allows for the evaluation of dietary and manage ment strategies that impact animal emissions, efficiency and sustainability. Incorporating grazing and feedlot research in one facility allows researchers to conduct full system evaluations of animal production sustain ability and ecosystem health, and to deter mine the scalability of solutions. Pressure to take action on animal agri cultural emissions is coming from consum

ers, regulators, banks and investors, and carbon markets. With climate a focus of sustainability for the foreseeable future, the importance of accurate measure ments of the impact of animal agriculture will be critical. “The most important thing we can do for soil organic carbon in rangelands is to preserve these rangelands,” Stackhouse-Lawson said, while restoring degraded lands and practicing adaptive live stock management. But we must be able to measure and demonstrate outcomes in the process, and it appears that the developing carbon market will be paying a premium for these efforts. Already, assets under the environmental, social and governance umbrella have reached $41 trillion globally, and are expected to reach $50 trillion by 2025. With global markets investing in sustainable products, animal agriculture needs to put itself in the position to invest in its own sustainability. Stackhouse-Lawson predicted that within two or three years, the carbon market will be developed to such an extent that producers will be financially incentivized to adopt climate smart practices.

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Wool Council Tours San Angelo Before Convention HEATHER PEARCE ASI Wool Production Programs Manager A SI Wool Council members began Annual Convention week not in Fort Worth, but 200 miles west in San Angelo, Texas. A hub in the American wool industry, San Angelo is home to wool scourer Bollman, the Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory and to several wool buyers. Opened for commercial testing since last May, the lab has worked closely with the New Zealand Wool Testing Authority to become more efficient, increase its capacity and ensure results are accurate.

The Wool Council’s afternoon was spent with warehousemen, processors and buyers discussing highlights and challenges in the industry. The conversation included some good natured teasing between buyers. Opportunities for the industry include assurance programs – such as ASI’s American Wool Assurance program – and exporting to more countries. The majority of American wool is exported. In dustry challenges were evident, including: the need for infrastruc ture in the United States; the backlog of wool and other challenges creating down markets globally; the need for well baled wool – which should weigh 400 to 500 pounds to make shipping efficient; wool with no paint or chalk marks, which often does not scour out and limits how the wool can be used; and well prepared wools. The words “versatile” (as in being versatile for markets), “youth” (as in we need to include our youth) and “quality” (as in making the best products we can) were brought up numerous times. “We need to be versatile, know what the processor wants, and them go get it,” Hughes said. The industry tour continued into the following day with a visit to Anodyne. A multi-generation wool merchant, Anodyne provided Wool Council members the opportunity to see how the company

Jan. 17 began with a morning visit to the Bollman wool scouring plant – the only commission scouring plant in the United States to complete the first stage of woolen processing. Chargeurs in South Carolina is the only domestic topmaker for worsted spinning and fabrics. Participants watched wool tumble through the opener and float along the scouring line before being dried and baled. Bollman’s Ladd Hughes also discussed the different income avenues Bollman has tried in working to diversify the operation, as well as the chal lenges of freight costs and differing regulations between countries. Next, the Wool Council was off to the newly updated wool test ing lab that will serve as the commercial lab for the United States. The Bill Sims Wool and Mohair Research Laboratory has tested wool for many years, however, in recent years it has expanded its capacity and capabilities by installing new instruments and machines. ASI assisted the lab in bringing expertise to the United States to maximize efficiencies as well increase testing capacity. An in-depth look through the lab allowed the Wool Council to discuss the future of the lab and its ability to meet the needs of American producers.

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blends wool to meet the demand to deliver wool year round – not just during the wool selling season – for both domestic and interna tional markets. The Wool Council then boarded a bus to Fort Worth to join the rest of the industry at the ASI Annual Convention. WOOL INDUSTRY MEETINGS Before the main wool meeting got rolling in Fort Worth, a few new sessions were held including: an American Wool Assurance Level I training; AWA Assessor Meeting; and a forum for sheep shearers and wool producers.

ing efforts are being made, such as Western Europe, South America, China and South Asia. Through the years, ASI has used $1.5 billion in Ag Trade Promotion funds to bolster export markets. Speaking of marketing, ASI’s Christa Rochford woke everyone up with several short American wool videos being shared on social media. To see these videos for yourself, be sure to follow Experience Wool on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. While these videos and social media are working to intrigue all consumers, small growers and mills are also working to engage consumers. Phil Lindsay with RH Lindsay Wool Merchants explained how there are more than 200 mini-mills located in the United States and the small farmers using these mills are working to share American wool’s story. “Small farmers are billboards throughout the East,” he said. These mills might not run 24/7 and the farmers might not have as many sheep, but they are an important part of the industry. Servicing small grower wool testing and now commercial wool testing, Reid Redden from the Bill Sims Wool lab gave an update on the lab’s progress. Through a virtual tour, Redden explained how the lab is able to provide commercial wool testing for micron, yield and vegetable matter. Currently, it takes seven days for a sample to work its way through all of these procedures, but they are work ing on increasing efficiencies and decreasing that time. Submission forms can be found at Make It With Wool Director Lynda Johnson wrapped up the Wool Council meeting expressing how important fundraisers and other funding are to the program. She offered a sincere thank you for the funding the Wool Council provides. The Wool Policy Forum began the following morning with some surprising information from Ben Hostetler of Mountain Meadow Wool. Hostetler shared snippets of how brands are selling emotion-

Animal welfare was a main topic of discussion during the AWA sessions and resulted in new producers becoming Level I accredited and AWA second-party evaluators becoming recertified. Discussion was abundant at the shearers forum where the Amer ican Sheep Shearers Council shared its newly updated website, in addition to challenges and possible solutions centering on the need for more: shearers and resources for producers; shearing schools; and how wool pool shearings could occur. Wool Council Meetings began in earnest on Jan. 19. In a packed room, ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson emphasized how losing the majority of the wool textile industry has led to the necessity to export wool. Wool exports have become imperative during the last 20 years because the domestic textile industry does not have the capacity to consume all of the American wool produced. ASI uses U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service funds to market American wool. Consultants around the world help build these important export markets. Tosha Clark with USDA/FAS further explained how this funding works. The plan for export strategy shows where and how market

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al stories to customers and, therefore, how important transparency and traceability have become. Hostetler also discussed how Mountain Meadow has worked with the University of Wyoming on a study to find a practical and cost-effective solution for traceability of American wool. “If we can trace it and prove it, then we can give that premium back to producers,” he said. With funds for producers in mind, Adam Bonner from USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Texas spoke next about the USDA Loan Deficiency Program. More than $5.5 million was aided to produc ers through LDP in 2022. To be eligible for an LDP, wool growers must have ownership of the wool and should work with their local FSA office to complete necessary forms. It is recommended that forms be filled out before shearing. Ungraded payment rates are currently set at $0.40/lb. grease weight and is set in the Farm Bill. A directive was established later in the meeting to address the issue. To discuss more USDA assistance, ASI Consultant Sandy John son shared the importance of export marketing assistance using various international marketing programs available through USDA. ASI applies for and receives more than $1 million per year from FAS for export markets – creating a huge impact on exports and, therefore, overall market prices. While there are plenty of regula tions and requirements, Johnson shared how performance, success stories and program evaluations are all important to keeping this funding.

Moving to the topic of sustainability, Erin Recktenwald from Michigan State University discussed research on sheep sustain ability. Essentially, the more productive one sheep can be, the more environmentally sustainable. This can be improved by being more efficient and managing lands well. The final Wool Roundtable meeting began with discussion on how the American Wool Assurance program is progressing with participation, auditors and traceability and how the next year will focus on involvement and generating wool buyer and processor recognition. Shearer and wool quality programs are other areas of focus for ASI’s wool production programs. Ashley Bullock of Burlington Industries – which produces wool fabric for the U.S. military – talked about the company’s struggles through Covid and the Domestic Non-Availability Determination exemption allowing wool military items to come from international mills. A DNAD allows a contractor to use non-American products for Department of Defense contracts, which otherwise a contrac tor is required to use ALL American products thanks to the Berry Amendment. This DNAD expires on Dec. 31, and Burlington has made great progress to date in once again meeting demand for wool fab ric. Bullock further emphasized how domestic infrastructure is important and that consumer spending is impactful for the entire industry.

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Lamb Council Looks at Frozen Product, Grading and Labeling

A fter a record-setting year in 2021, lamb prices took an unwelcome turn in 2022 – a fact that was on full display in discussions at the Lamb Council’s meeting during the ASI nnual Convention. “We won’t sugarcoat it, we’ve got a lot of challenges ahead,” said American Lamb Board Executive Director Megan Wortman in her report to the council. Retail sales of lamb were down 4.7 percent in 2022 as inflation meant consumers had less income to spend on premium meats. Price was the No. 1 barrier for consumers in purchasing American lamb. In addition, the foodservice sector continued its struggles in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic as restaurants closed, reduced hours and simplified menus – all of which had a negative impact on sales of American lamb. But there are reasons to be optimistic in 2023 and beyond. While consumer diets are changing, many still see red meat as a healthy part of a balanced diet. They might be eating less meat, but focusing on higher quality when they do. Lamb is a perfect option for such consumers. Furthermore, the growth of value-added meat products could be a boon to the industry in more ways than one. Consumers prefer the convenience of such products, which they generally purchase frozen. And that could lead to more acceptance of frozen lamb by consumers, which would make it easier for producers and packers to provide a year-round supply of American lamb. “We believe there are opportunities in this area, and certainly one of the biggest challenges to getting consumers to buy our prod uct is ensuring they can find it year-round,” Wortman said. Wortman pointed to an ALB-sponsored study that showed consumers are open to frozen meat products. Frozen meat reduces loss risk for retailers as the product has a longer shelf life than fresh options. Meat shortages during the pandemic also led to many consumers purchasing larger quantities of available meat (when it was avail able) and freezing it at home for future use. The study also indicated meat buyers’ preference for American meat might outweigh their concerns over fresh versus frozen product. The inclusion of lamb in online meat delivery services (Allen Brothers, D’Artagnan and Crowd Cow) is also pushing consumers toward general acceptance of frozen meat, as most ship frozen meat with dry ice and advise customers to keep products frozen until they are ready to use them. The move toward frozen product would certainly prove benefi cial to an industry that sometimes struggles to provide a consistent supply of domestic lamb throughout the calendar year.

“We as producers know there’s good frozen product out there,” said Cody Hiemke of Niman Ranch during a subsequent panel dis cussion with meat packers. “We, as an industry, say we should just kill that lamb now and sell it frozen. But there’s an expectation with the consumer. If they buy chicken and pork fresh, then they should be able to buy lamb fresh. I think that’s the expectation.” Frozen versus fresh wasn’t the topic of the panel discussion, but there’s no doubt packers would benefit from processing lambs as they’re available and freezing that product for future sales. The panel was tasked with discussing how packers use the current lamb grading and labeling standards, but the discussion touched on everything from electronic camera grading to the need to open more foreign markets for American lamb. That led to random thoughts from the council’s Lamb Grading Standards Working Group, which was given the job of looking at how current lamb grading standards might affect the industry’s ability to sell American lamb. The working group consists of ASI Lamb Council members Reed Anderson, Nick Forrest, Don Hawk, Karissa Isaacs and Dan Lippert. “I feel like the industry needs to focus on harvesting the lambs when they’re at their prime,” Hawk said in his comments. "That’s the important factor that kind of gets overlooked a lot.” Anderson sparked the initial conversation on the topic because most lamb imported into the United States is not graded, yet it’s taking market share from graded American lamb. “We have a small packing plant and market between 500 and 600 lambs a week,” Anderson said. “We do a little bit of grading if we have a customer that wants it. But for the most part, they don’t ask. We never have a problem with any kind of quality.” The council also heard how grading and labeling standards are implemented from representatives of the U.S. Department of Agri culture’s Agricultural Marketing Service and the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.

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