Two new programs will benefit sheep producers and the sheep industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced July 28.
The new Sheep Production and Marketing Grant Program, part of the 2014 Farm Bill, will provide approximately $1.5 million in grant funds that can be used by sheep organizations to assist producers by strengthening the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products in the United States. The focus of the grant will be on infrastructure, business and resource development. Eligible organizations must submit an application for federal assistance by 5 p.m. EST on Aug. 27.
“I want to emphasize that USDA is committed to working with the sheep industry, to support markets for high quality lamb and lamb products and for high quality sheep and sheep products,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Ed Avalos. “And I’m not talking about just domestic markets, I’m talking also about international markets.”
“The industry is very appreciative of AMS for its timely initiation of the grant funds,” said Clint Krebs, president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). “ASI anticipates that these funds will be secured by the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center for distribution to the industry as was the intent of the Farm Bill language. The program will have AMS oversight.”
Meanwhile, the second program unveiled by USDA is the Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small Producers. It is designed as a verification tool for producers of 99 ewes or less to certify their animals meet the requirements of the grass-fed marketing claim standard. Certified producers will receive certificates that allow them to market their sheep as USDA-certified grass fed, increasing their market value and creating new economic opportunities.
“Both of these programs are welcomed by sheep producers and will be valuable tools for the industry as a whole,” said Clint Krebs, president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). “We appreciate USDA for all its work with the sheep industry and we are excited about being able to offer the grass-fed program to a large number of our producers.
“These programs are a win for the U.S. sheep industry but also for consumers and the economy. Studies have shown that for every 1,000 ewes being cared for on ranches and farms in the United States, 18 jobs are associated with them.”