ASI Weekly – August 9, 2019
Sheep Producers Support No Action Alternative in Colorado
The American Sheep Industry Association and the Public Lands Council completed comments this week concerning grazing permits administered by the Gunnison Field Office of the U.S. Forest Service.
“ASI and PLC join with their affiliate the Colorado Wool Growers Association in supporting the Bureau of Land Management’s Alternative B – No Action Alternative. Under the No Action alternative, livestock grazing allotments would continue to be permitted and successfully managed as they have over recent years,” read comments from ASI President Benny Cox and PLC President Bob Skinner. “Conversely, we strongly oppose Alternatives C, D, and E. The DEIS contemplates direction consistent with the BLM released manual MS-1730 Management of Domestic Sheep and Goats to Sustain Wild Sheep. ASI objects to the consideration of this guidance, as it is beyond the agency’s scope as designated by Congress. The authority to manage for spatial or temporal separation between domestic sheep and wild sheep is not contained in the document’s referenced statutory authorities. The agency’s prescribed management practices cannot exceed the scope authorized by Congress under relevant statute. Therefore, it is improper for the agency to cite, reference or apply MS-1730.
“In the alternative, should the agency find there is relevant statutory authority to consider separation based on concerns over pathogen transmission as part of its habitat management duty then it must also consider separation among bighorn populations. The DEIS incorporates Secretarial Order 3362, Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors as supporting the ‘long-term sustainability of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep populations in Colorado.’ Specifically, ‘maintaining connectivity between populations (or between herds).’ Research in Wyoming and Montana has shown that in 77 percent of bighorn herds tested, Mycoplasma ovipneumonia (M ovi) was detected (Butler, et. Al. 2018). While the objective in that study was to determine how commonly the pathogens associated with respiratory disease are hosted by bighorn sheep populations, the study noted that minimizing the introduction of novel pathogens from domestic sheep and goats remains imperative and that ecological factors often determine population-level effects. Therefore, it follows that if minimizing the introduction of novel pathogens from domestic sheep is imperative, it must also be imperative between and among bighorn sheep. While this action broadly by the agency ‘would not create or influence this issue,’ the inclusion and implementation of Secretarial Order 3362 would, therefore it’s reference should be removed.”
Photo Contest Generates 475 Entries
Professional and amateur photographers from around the United States contributed 475 photos in the 2019 American Sheep Industry Association Photo Contest. The deadline to enter was Aug. 1 this year.
ASI staff will now set about judging the entries to determine the top three in each of five categories: Action, Open, Scenic East, Scenic West and Working Dogs. The winning photos will be featured in the annual photo issue of the Sheep Industry News in October.
“This year marked the highest participation in the past five years,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “I appreciate not only the incredible photos that are submitted every single year, but the time and energy our producers and others associated with the industry put into taking and submitting their amazing work. Now comes the hard part – choosing the winners.”
The open category – which usually includes the most photos – had 152 entries in 2019. ASI staff have already begun narrowing down the finalists, but the industry will have to wait until October to see the results.
“I think the October issue of the magazine has become a favorite among sheep producers all across the country,” Orwick said. “We truly enjoy the opportunity to showcase these amazing photos in that issue.”
ASI Files Grazing USFS Comments
A week ago, the American Sheep Industry Association filed comments in favor of sheep grazing as outlined in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Evanston-Mountain View Ranger District, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and Roosevelt-Duchesne Ranger District, Ashley National Forest (FS Project ID 44503).
“ASI strongly supports the Forest Service proposed action in the DEIS to continue current livestock grazing management to permit up to 10,300 ewe/lamb pairs and up to 3,000 dry ewes and continue the use of the sheep driveway,” read the comments from ASI President Benny Cox that were addressed to Uinta-Wasatch-Cache Forest Supervisor David Whittekiend and Ashley Forest Supervisor Jeff Schramm. “Further, we commend the service and the Interdisciplinary Team for their thorough consideration of a myriad of factors considered in the DEIS, and their compilation of a strong regulatory record. Conversely, we strongly oppose Alternative 1 – the No Action alternative, and the third alternative of reducing the number and/or size of allotments.
“ASI concurs that permitted domestic livestock grazing as contemplated in the DEIS maintains and moves the service toward achieving overall Forest Plan objectives and desired conditions. As the DEIS noted, impacts of sheep grazing to soil, horticultural, silvicultural and riparian management are consistent with field studies and grazing research demonstrating the minimal impact of sheep grazing. Specifically, the DEIS cites that ‘sheep do not prefer to graze in riparian areas,’ and in numerous areas, that there has been little to no change in head cutting during the time sheep have been grazing. The DEIS also references ‘healing and an increase in ground cover concurrent with livestock grazing’ on the Gilbert Peak Allotment. Sheep grazing controls noxious and invasive plant species, preserves the mosaic vegetation and reduces fuel loads which in turn lessens the likelihood for catastrophic wildfire. While these considerations were accounted for in the proposed Alternative 2, the absence of these benefits of grazing should be considered as a detriment to range health in the No Action Alternative.
“America’s sheep producers pride themselves on their stewardship of the range, both private and federal, and rely on those resources for their long-term livelihood. The DEIS acknowledges that the ‘majority of the project area has remained stable with approximately 100 years of livestock grazing.’ This is not by chance. ASI supports the Forest Service’s proposed action and believes for the foregoing reasons that continuing grazing supports the rural communities intangibly in excess of the estimated $2.5 million per year and aids the service in meeting its management goals.”
Australian Wool Market Slumps After Three-Week Recess
The Australian wool market suffered large corrections in Week 6. Concerns over global trade tensions resulted in many major buyers being cautious in their purchases.
This tentative buying approach made it difficult for the market to find a firm level, meaning prices were continually discounted as the series progressed. This was the first buying and selling opportunity since early July, and the national quantity rose to 43,063 bales. With three sales now completed in the 2019-20 selling season, the total national offering has fallen by 27,533 bales when compared to the previous season – a reduction of 20.6 percent.
From the opening lot in the Eastern markets, it was immediately apparent that buyers were not prepared to buy at the levels achieved before the recess. Prices opened 50 to 60 cents lower, but by the end of the series the individual Micron Price Guides had fallen by 80 to 180 Australian cents. The Western Region – selling last – recorded the largest falls. The drop in the individual MPGs pushed the AWEX Eastern Market Indicator down by 78 cents – closing the week at 1,676 Australian cents.
The highest passed in rate in more than 10 years of 28.6 percent prevented the market from falling further than it did. After starting the new season solidly – where the EMI gained 39 cents – this week’s drop in the EMI has pushed the market into negative territory for the 2019-20 season.
The EMI has fallen 234 cents for the calendar year and is 440 cents below the high it achieved in August of last year – an overall reduction of 20.7 percent. The oddments were the only sector to record positive movement for the series. A limited supply attracted strong competition, pushing prices up by 50 to 70 Australian cents. This was reflected in the regional carding indicators, which rose by an average of 51 cents.
Video of the Week
A blog on Stetson Hat’s website recently featured Navajo shepherds and the Navajo-Churro sheep that play such an important role in their culture. The blog post includes a video that centers on the tribe and their sheep.
“It’s commonly said that one must be Navajo to truly understand the depth of this sacred bond and what it means among families, clans and on an individual level,” reads the video’s description on YouTube. “For that reason and more, this story was told by the shepherds themselves. The Navajo Nation lies at the heart of the American Southwest. This land is the center of Diné culture and home to more than 300,000 Navajo people whose heritage dates back countless generations. At the core of this culture is a sacred, traditional way of life: The Navajo shepherd and the Navajo-Churro sheep.”