Sheep Experiment Station Granted New Life
WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee in July blocked the USDA’s previously announced plan to close the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES) in Dubois, Idaho.
With support from ASI, Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson and other western House members asked Chairman Robert Aderholt (Ala.) to deny a request by the Agricultural Research Service to reprogram funds from the sheep station, which would have result in its closure.
“Because of its location and expertise, experts at the Idaho station are conducting research that no other facility is currently able to do, including unique research on the domestic-wildlife interface that is vital to the future of the sheep industry,” Simpson said. “Closing down the Dubois station would effectively end this important research, and it would be a huge loss to American agriculture, which is why my western colleagues and I are fighting so hard to keep it open.”
Simpson said he will continue to work with USDA, University of Idaho and members of the sheep industry to ensure the long-term viability of the sheep center. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack sent a letter to Aderholt on June 17 saying that the station had become a liability and the station was being slated for closure on Nov. 3. Congress had 30 days to respond to Vilsack’s decision, which would have been July 17.
“The Dubois facility is the only national station dedicated to sheep research,” said Peter Orwick, ASI executive director. “The sheep industry agrees with Rep. Simpson that, with the proposal provided by USDA, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet the research needs of the industry. Most of the research being done at the station cannot be duplicated outside of this facility. This situation provides a great opportunity to address sheep research and the use of the Dubois station.”