The American Sheep Industry Association formally requested this month that Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer consider direct payments to sheep producers as part of any future Market Facilitation Program.
“Our producers overwhelmingly support efforts aimed at strengthening the United States’ position on free and fair trade and are appreciative of the administration’s efforts to rectify long standing disparities in the trading actions of China. To that end, we are optimistic given the recent positive steps taken to sign the first phase of an agreement,” wrote ASI President Benny Cox. “Yet, our understanding is that through this process China will maintain retaliatory tariffs, specifically tariffs on raw wool and sheepskins (pelts). That means that we are preparing to head into a second shearing and marketing season with the effective loss of our largest export market.
“In the first round of the MFP, the USDA identified $17 million in American lamb purchases. That option has not impacted markets or provided any revenue to sheep producers for sheepskins and certainly not for wool. We ask that the program specific to our industry be reconsidered to focus on wool and sheepskins as the primary targeted products.
“We are hearing clearly from producers across the nation on the impact this is having to their bottom line and profitability. Without the ability to sell their wool, they are completely reliant on the slaughter market, where the loss incurred to sheepskins alone is eliminating their profitability. As we come up on our annual convention at the end of this month, I fully expect this to be a major topic and already our state affiliates have circulated policy directives urging ASI to continue to pursue a pathway to diminish the effect of this trade disruption on our wool and sheepskin market.”
The letter was recently shared with ASI’s state contacts, and the association asked that they in turn share it with their congressional delegations.
American Sheep Industry