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Support Mounts for Sheep Industry Investigation

Billings, Mont., Dec. 11, 2023 – Last week, Protect American Lamb, a project of the R-CALF USA Sheep Committee, supplemented its August 3 petition to U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai asking her to request the U.S. International Trade Commission to conduct a Global Safeguard Investigation for the sheep industry. The purpose of the investigation would be to determine if imported lamb and mutton are a substantial cause of serious injury to the U.S. sheep industry. The petition claims lower cost imports, mostly from Australia and New Zealand, have captured 74% of the domestic lamb and mutton market and have decimated the commercial sheep industry in the United States.

The supplement includes 16 official resolutions, proclamations, and letters from county governments in seven states urging Congress and the Administration to take action to halt the injury to the U.S. sheep industry caused by excessive imports, and several county governments further urged the establishment of permanent import relief through the enactment of tariffs and tariff rate quotas. The county governments are in the seven western states of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, and Utah.

The supplement also includes a resolution from the Utah E&I Conservation District and two resolutions from county Farm Bureau organizations in Utah.

Also included in the supplement is a list of 115 domestic ewe/lamb producers, feeders, and packers from 16 states who endorse the petition. Though their names and contact information are omitted due to confidentiality concerns, the list demonstrates that support for the petition is from domestic sheep producers who together control about 800,000 sheep and lambs, representing over 20% of the U.S. sheep and lamb inventory in the 17 western states.

The supplement follows a bipartisan letter sent to Tai last month urging her to favorably act on the petition for investigation by the R-CALF USA Sheep Committee’s Protect American Lamb project.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said the U.S. sheep industry is now at the breaking point due to excessive imports and because of the sheep industry’s similarity to the cattle industry, in terms of biological characteristics and market structure, the sheep industry is the cattle industry’s canary in the coal mine. “Where the sheep industry goes, the cattle industry will follow.”

He explained that the requested investigation is critical as it will help establish the fact that unless some form of quantity control is established by Congress and the Administration, “Unlimited imports can and will destroy our nation’s vital animal protein supply chains, putting America’s food security at high risk.”

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