U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) today called on the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to expand a recent study of slaughter facilities open to small livestock and poultry producers. While Johnson and Enzi applaud the effort of the initial study, it did not include the sheep/lamb industry.
“The study was an attempt to identify areas in the United States where small livestock and poultry producers are concentrated but may not have access to a nearby slaughter facility. This study provides valuable information on the availability of access to slaughter facilities and in turn, access to the marketplace. I want to thank the FSIS for examining the issue, but ask them to take it further and look at the sheep and lamb industry,” Johnson said.
“The omission of the sheep and lamb industry from this study needs to be corrected as soon as possible. I will continue working to ensure the Wyoming sheep and lamb industry have adequate access to slaughter facilities for their livestock,” said Enzi.
As part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign, the FSIS on May 25, 2010, released a preliminary study revealing existing gaps in the regional food systems regarding the availability of slaughter facilities to small meat and poultry producers.
A Copy of the Letter is Below:
July 2, 2010
The Honorable Alfred V. Almanza, Administrator
Food Safety Inspection Service
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Administrator Almanza:
We write to thank you for your work in studying and identifying the gaps in regional food systems concerning the availability of slaughter facilities for small meat and poultry producers. We understand that this study was released as part of USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program. This information is vital to enabling us as policymakers to understand the challenges small agricultural producers face in gaining access to the marketplace. However, similar information as it concerns lamb and sheep facilities would be helpful in better understanding the current situation facing agricultural producers.
Our economies are heavily reliant on our agricultural producers and rural towns. Specifically, lamb production is a major component of the agricultural economy. According to the American Sheep Industry Association, for every 1,000 producers raising sheep, another 540 jobs are created. Additionally, an estimated $509 million in production at the producer level supports an additional $1.3 billion in economic activity. Production agriculture is the economic engine that drives our rural communities, and without viable family farms and ranches, our small towns and Main Street businesses throughout the country would face significant financial hardships.
Especially during these difficult economic times, and given the importance of small processing facilities for lamb producers, it is important that the industry as well as policymakers have a better understanding of the degree to which these facilities are available to producers. As such, we hope in the future you will expand your analysis to include the current issues facing small lamb and sheep producers in accessing slaughter facilities.
Tim Johnson Mike Enzi
United States Senator United States Senator