Meat & Livestock News

Elko County Advocates for Sheep Industry Support

The Elko County Commissioners have voiced their support for the sheep industry locally and nationally. They have introduced a resolution urging the congressional delegation to revise tariffs and quotas to bolster the domestic sheep industry’s competitiveness and sustainability. 

Historically, the sheep industry was pivotal in the West’s settlement. However, it has faced challenges due to domestic over-regulation and a surge in lamb and wool imports.

Rex Stringer, the Chairman, highlighted that there had been requests for a resolution to address Congress regarding tariffs and imports, especially concerning the sheep ranches in Elko County. 

Ellison Ranching Co., a significant Elko County sheep producer, has expressed concerns. Ira Wines, the company’s manager, emphasised the lack of protection for American producers, noting that most lamb imports come from Australia and New Zealand. 

These imports had a detrimental impact on the U.S. lamb market, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Little, the Nevada Wool Growers Association’s president, has advocated for tariff and quota revisions for years. He pointed out the challenges the domestic industry faces due to rising imports. 

The county’s resolution indicates that the U.S. sheep population peaked in 1942 but has declined by 62%. In contrast, lamb and wool imports have surged by 543% during the same timeframe, dominating 74% of the domestic market.

The resolution also underscores the environmental benefits of sheep, as they graze on harmful weeds and other species in areas susceptible to fires. 

Furthermore, the resolution highlights the challenges faced by the domestic sheep industry, including market distortions and stringent restrictions on predator control.

The R-Calf USA Sheep Committee has initiated a petition seeking an investigation into the volume of imports from Australia and New Zealand. They are urging Congress to implement a phased-in traffic quota system over a decade to boost U.S. production. 

These issues are also expected to be discussed at November’s upcoming Nevada Cattlemen’s Association convention.