Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced it published the final rule updating import regulations for sheep, goats and meat from these animals.
The rule, that was fire proposed in 2016, removes critical protections against fatal diseases, such as scrapie and BSE. Since that time, ASI has urged successive administrations to prioritize export opportunities for American lamb over additional imports. ASI continues to work with Congress and the administration to understand the impact of this rule and protect the interests of American sheep producers.
In response to the new rule, Congressman August Pfluger (Texas) introduced a bipartisan bill to require the USDA to delay implementation of the rule until its impacts on American sheep producers can be fully studied. Companion legislation has been filed in the Senate by Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso.
Cosponsors of the House legislation include Reps. Henry Cuellar, Ronny Jackson, Nicole Malliotakis, Jodey Arrington, Tony Gonzales, Yvette Herrell, Chris Stewart, Jeff Fortenberry, Dusty Johnson, and Liz Cheney.
The measure is supported by the American Sheep Industry Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation
Rep. August Pfluger said, “At a time where American sheep and goat producers are facing extreme predation, increased labor costs, and loss of federal grazing land, this administration must remain laser focused on opening up new export markets for American lamb. This rule could have serious effects, and I am proud to lead this effort to halt implementation until it effects can be fully studied.”
ASI President Susan Shultz commented, “The American Sheep Industry Association greatly appreciates the leadership of Rep. Pfluger and our affiliate the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association. We have continued to ask successive administrations to prioritize export opportunities for U.S. sheep producers, before allowing additional imports. The legislation introduced by Rep. Pfluger in the House and Senator Barrasso in the Senate will provide the domestic sheep and lamb industry the information we need to assess the potential impacts of increasing exports and inform this conversation going forward.”
Sen. Barrasso’s legislation is cosponsored by John Tester, Tina Smith, Kevin Cramer, John Hoeven, Mike Rounds, John Thune, Cynthia Lummis, Steve Daines and Roger Marshall.
One of the major concerns of the sheep industry with this proposed rule is that it is a step towards opening the U.S. market up for imports of lamb from the U.K. British lamb is heavily subsidized, which would put U.S. sheep producers at a disadvantage to imported product. The U.S. is already a net importer of lamb, which is why ASI has urged the administration to focus on opening new export markets for lamb, rather than allowing more imports.
Click Here to read more from ASI on this rule.
ASI/Rep. Pfluger/Northern Ag Network