Sheep Center Grants Target Industry Growth
In his visit to ASI headquarters in August, Ed Avalos broke news of a grant program that would boost production and marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States.
His promise was made official in October, when USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service unveiled the Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program. The new program’s first recipient – the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center – has been awarded about $1.5 million in grant funding. The grants are authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and are administered by AMS.
The Sheep Center will use these funds to award grants to other industry organizations, focusing on projects that will improve infrastructure, build business and develop industry-wide resources.
Avalos, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at AMS, recently noted on his USDA blog that the grants are designed to provide additional resources to help develop innovative approaches to address their long-term needs in the sheep industry.
“Consolidation of the U.S. sheep packing industry, higher feed and energy costs, loss of animals to predators and lower lamb consumption, along with competition from imported of lamb cuts, have taken their toll on U.S. sheep producers,” Avalos explained. “In response to industry needs, USDA is committed to working with our stakeholders to ensure long-term viability of the sheep industry.”
Another program touted by Avalos – the USDA Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers – is designed as a verification tool for small and very small producers to certify that animals meet the requirements of the AMS Grass Fed Marketing Claim Standard. The program is targeting producers that market 49 cattle or less each year and lambs produced from 99 ewes or less.