WASHINGTON — In response to a Federal Register notice on supply chains in agriculture production, the American Sheep Industry Association recently offered comments calling for support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for increased access to lamb processing in the United States.
The problem was exacerbated with the closing of the Mountain States Rosen plant in 2020, and even the addition of two new plants in the past year has failed to completely right the ship in the lamb packing industry.
“Even a year later, these new small to mid-sized packers lack adequate fabrication facilities to fully participate in the food supply chain,” read ASI’s comments to Dr. Melissa R. Bailey with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. “These families that have chosen to invest in the domestic lamb supply chain lack the ability to fully realize the potential of their investment. Many local and regional processing facilities utilized by small to mid-size sheep and lamb producers lack the resources to invest in infrastructure to meet the growing demand for processing lamb at a local level. This was further evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of processing capacity at the local level. Utilizing resources authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021; grants and guaranteed loans to these small and mid-sized facilities to invest in fabrication facilities and encourage the entry of additional packing entities would be tremendously helpful in enhancing the geographic distribution of the industry’s infrastructure.
“USDA grants and guaranteed loans as offered through USDA Rural Development could address those deficiencies and provide economic drivers for the sheep and lamb industry as well as the rural communities where these facilities are located.”
ASI’s comments also addressed the need for nylon sacks for the storage and shipment of American wool. These sacks are manufactured exclusively in China and have been subject to tariffs and supply shortages, which creates a barrier to market participation for American wool growers.
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–American Sheep Industry Association
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