Sheep producers host roll-over auction fundraiser

Farm Forum

Billings, Mont. — Recently, R-CALF USA had its first ever sheep roll-over auction fundraiser. This milestone event occurred during the 69th annual Newell Ram Show & Sale. R-CALF USA member Keith Franke of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, donated a yearling ewe to be auctioned in the roll-over sale that raised thousands in support of R-CALF USA. In addition to the fundraiser, Bill Bullard, R-CALF USA CEO, addressed the crowd for a few minutes at the Newell Sale Barn and later during the supper.

According to Franke, “We (sheep producers) need to promote R-CALF USA. They took us on and we need to support R-CALF USA because we need someone looking out for us while we are out working.” He continues by saying, “I’ve been watching R-CALF USA and it is just a good organization.”R-CALF USA formed a sheep committee in early 2013 after sheep producers experienced a 50 percent decline in lamb prices. Since the formation of this committee, R-CALF USA has spoken at various sheep events.

R-CALF USA Sheep Committee Chair Bill Kluck was instrumental in arranging this fundraiser and many other meetings over the past year. Kluck said he does this “because it is important to preserve our heritage – sheep and cattle ranching – for future generations. We cannot do that with current trade agreements favoring imports over domestic products especially when those countries are not required to follow the same standards. We need R-CALF USA standing up for independent producers.”

During his supper presentation, Bullard explained that the strategy of importers was to price Australian lamb just under the price of U.S. lamb, regardless of the price of U.S. lamb. He said this strategy caused the U.S. lamb industry to shrink at an alarming rate.

“The U.S. lamb industry is the first U.S. livestock industry to be outsourced as we now import more lamb and mutton than our beleaguered sheep industry is able to produce,” Bullard said.

He also explained that the reason the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is willing to expose U.S. livestock herds to a greater risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is because they want to begin importing lamb and mutton from FMD-affected Argentina and Brazil.

“Argentina has 15 million sheep and Brazil has 16 million sheep, and these countries will put tremendous, additional downward pressure on domestic sheep prices. The domestic industry will need to rely on country of origin labeling to encourage U.S. consumers to buy U.S. lamb in the face of these additional imports,” Bullard concluded.

If you’re interested in holding a similar event in your area, please contact Laurel at 406-252-2516.