GISPA Continues Lamb Market Investigation

Producers continue to await a outcome of a investigation of the nation's lamb market. Last fall eight US Senators have pushed the Department of Agriculture to investigate the collapse of the market. USDA's Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration is conducting the investigation and they are expected to present their findings to Congress in May or possibly June. In a interview with KNEB/Rural Radio Network, American Sheep Industry Executive Director Peter Orwick says the report will document and analyze the volatility in the market the previous two years.

GIPSA's Denver office has been investigating rancher complaints that lamb prices collapsed for producers while retail prices were rising. In the investigation, Orwick says GISPA representatives have visited with major lamb companies along with meetings with producers and feeds around the country.

Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana have said the investigation should include reports that packers may have violated the Packers and Stockyards Act. Orwick anticipates GIPSA's report will identify violations of buying and selling lamb.

GIPSA is also investigating and evaluating the industry's access to international markets and the mandatory price reporting system. Orwick says lamb industry would like full access to international markets. Many countries closed their borders to US lamb in 2002 after a single cow with BSE was identified in the US. While many countries have re-opened their borders to US beef they have retained a ban on US lamb.

Next week 70 representatives of the sheep industry will in the nation's capital . In meeting with lawmakers and governmental officials, Orwick says opening export markets will be one of their main challenges facing producers.

The American Sheep Industry is also looking for the government to update the nation's mandatory price reporting program. It's been 10 years since the program came out and Orwick says the market needs to keep up with the changes.

ASI is also wanting USDA to consider a tenderness certification and a review of the US grading system. Orwick says USDA needs to review the term term lamb versus mutton.

In the end, Orwick says the sheep industry wants USDA to layout a roadmap for changes that allow the sheep industry to remain strong once again.

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