Ranchers getting fleeced?

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OogieM
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby OogieM » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:38 am

Saffronsheepranch wrote:Creating a more uniform American lamb product by having target weights/ages does not stop anyone from direct marketing their own lamb in whichever condition they see fit. What we are talking about does not even affect you. Go do what you do happily.

I think letting the whole of the infrastructure of the sheep industry go down the tubes because a few of you can sell every lamb you produce without ever seeing a sale barn or station buyer is insane......
Direct marketers should not strive to destroy a ready market for the rest of us. I don't say the heck with you. Why do you get to say the heck with us?
And the rest of us should come up with a plan so that we have a bright future in sheep raising.

Yes what the big folks do DOES affect us. The push for monolithic absolutely the same product is the root cause of the problem not its salvation! Getting bigger is the problem not a fix. Anyone with even a modicum of sense understands that large systems without redundancy have single points of failure that can cripple them. The sheep industry as it is now is like that, dependency on a few large packers who have big producers by the short hairs means that if they pull out or change you are all screwed. In the mean time the small folks like us are hit with increasing regulations on small slaughter plants, caused by contamination issues that are a function of huge plants operating at warp speed, new rules and regulations that limit our ability to market, fewer places to get our animals processed in a way we feel is good and ultimately the loss of the industry.

What we need for food safety and increased consumption is a network of small distributed systems for the processing, marketing etc of our product.

What the sheep industry has been doing for the last 20+ years isn't working. Time to wake up and look at places it IS working and see what makes those work and support them.

I'm saying the big operations are what is causing the industry to be in trouble and so yes, I do think you need to change. But then I'm far more radical and less diplomatic than Janet, or Bill or some of the others on this forum.

Janet is right about the paleo and primal diets. Already I have former vegetarian customers who will eat our meat because of how it's raised. Sheep are perfect for the paleo diet because sheep, better than other red meat species, can finish to a good tasty carcass on forages alone. We need to promote that not bemoan a lack of standardization. That is our strength not our weakness!
Oogie McGuire
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DonDrewry
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby DonDrewry » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:43 am

I don’t see what standardization of product fixes. I do that elimination of low quality product into the food chain might make demand more consistent. Eggs have standard sizes and it makes sense. Making a batch of cookies with two jumbo eggs versus two small egg swill change the end cookie by a lot. However, grilling a 2” chop versus a 4.5” chop doesn’t seem to me to change much. If you’re hungrier you might grill two of the small chops. I can see restaurants buying a consistent size cut as they buy by pound and sell by serving.

When I read through postings in this thread I get the sense that many people are trying to either convince the rest of the sheep industry should be selling lambs like they raise lambs because their slaughter lambs are fundamentally superior to what the bulk of the industry has OR their expressing sentiments that if there is a standardization towards a different product then they raise they don’t care and will continue to raise what they do now for various reasons. I’ll confess to also thinking we raise an above average product, (best slaughtered between 120-145 pounds, 120” loin eye 3”+, with about .18 back fat, leg scores of probably 12-15) at 7-9 months age. But, I don’t mind if you want to market lambs at 105 pounds with a 1.5” loin eye and 5 leg score or some other type of lamb. If you’re going to sell a 200 pound yearling with .6” backfat and a 2” loin eye I hope you get penalized on the price per pound of live weight and I don’t see the current system as having a very good way to attract a consistent high quality lamb as I’d probably get the same of those 200 pound lambs if they had .3” backfat and 4” loin eyes.

I’m not sure what the answer is but it strikes me the right answer is going to include either a greater reward to the given producer for producing a consistent product that meets what the restaurant or grocery sees as important to making that final sale to the end consumer AND feedback from the packer who has to process the lamb into that end product. To state the packer shouldn’t care about the lower cost per pound to process a heavier lamb versus a lighter lamb makes no sense to me if that’s true. The reality of this won’t go away so a way for the packer to be better compensated for the lighter lamb would have to be in the equation.
Don Drewry

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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby Sugar Creek » Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:00 am

My Sheep Industry News came in the mail this week. I always turn first to the Market Report, about three pages of comments on the lamb market byJulie Stepanek Shiflett, PH.D. of Juniper Economic Consulting.
I was a little surprised to see it open with a strong defense of the Livestock Risk Protection Program, LRP-Lamb, touting it as a likely "savior for some producers and feeders in these tough economic times".
She goes on to tout its need by the industry and urges greater participation. She says it is available to producers with only one lamb to sell, or as many as 28,000, but only in 28 states. Why?

Am I right to assume this flies in the face of much of what I read in this forum? Am I wrong to pay my $30 a year dues? I always thought I might be benefitting some by their lamb promotion if nothing else. I joined because of some people in the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Producers Association who I know and appreciate. The national and state magazines I get each month I have felt were worth the cost of the dues.

Is there a need for a national organization that promotes the production and marketing models being discussed in this thread? Or are these goals best attained by scattered individuals only loosely connected by acquaintance or through forums such as this one? ( I really do not know of another forum like it )

Fred

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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby McMurry » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:03 am

Joe Emenheiser wrote;

The advantages of our species of interest are that we have more options to improve efficiency by reducing inputs, and we can offer a greater diversity of products. I believe the trend toward easier care genetics is here to stay for a while. On the marketing end, I believe we need to move past the paradigm that the only way a sheep can provide income is when it is hanging in a cooler.


Great comment. As one example, I am thinking of the merino wether flocks I saw in NZ in the late 80's who could utilize a resource only suited to sheep and generate a good income to the grower through wool sales alone. They were only mustered twice / year in flock sizes of several thousands +. At the time they were growing about 100$ / hd (NZ$) worth of wool. This same model has been used all over the world for a very long time (1,000's of yrs) in places where almost no other agriculture can work.
It is getting to the point now that this type of wool is of such high quality that it is beginning to create a whole new market for it's self, in some cases even taking market share from fibers like cashmere. Enabling this has been several new brands / old brands with new approaches that are doing a great job with product development and marketing. I look for the trend to continue. Just last week the wool market jumped over 4%.
Andy McMurry

Endeavoring to develop luxury wool producing dual purpose sheep suited to Midwest grazing based commercial production.

http://www.genopalette.com

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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby DeltaBluez Tess » Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:34 am

I shot an email to my customers....some have been customers for ten years and some just joined up....mainly middle class, icome $20,000 -$200,000, single to two children and all live in the city. Some grew up eating lamb and some just tried it for the first time.

I charge $5 hanging weight plus they pay butcher fee (kill/cut/wrap). My weight ranged 55-68

Basic gist of replies were:

prefer lamb weight of 50-65 (55 being desired)
grass feed then finished last 30 days or just grass fed
meat is very tender
meat is not gamey or lanolin tasting
meat is not treated with chemicals
free ranging and not feedlot (I send pixs of my pastures/sheep)
I asked if any wanted a 70 plus lamb and only the couple that splits a lamb will take a lamb of that size



I asked why they prefer 50-60 hanging weight and most replies said, "they heard anything bigger is a sheep and not a lamb" and in one case, one person said her parents had lambs during the war and hated it but she had them try her lamb and they are hooked, apparently her parents had a "huge lamb"....one person used to fly up here from CA to get her lamb and fly home wiht it but I hooked her up locally.

They realize the chops are bite size and the lamb is not big but as one person stated "I am paying for QUALITY not QUANITY"

so my goal for next year is to have lambs hanging at 55 lbs as soon as possible. I am bringing in some great genetic to have them grow faster. (Thanks Lana)


Nice to get feedback. It keeps me in check.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Diane Pagel
DeltaBluez Stockdogs
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www.deltabluez.blogspot.com
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Bill Fosher
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby Bill Fosher » Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:57 pm

Fred,

I think you'll find a lot of opinions that are well outside the mainstream here. Personally, I'm pretty sure I'm considered a gadfly if I'm even noticed. My feeling is that this forum serves to provide a voice for those of us who are not buying what the Industry is selling. I sincerely doubt that my thoughts on the LRP would be published by ASI (since ASI benefits financially from sales of contracts), so without a forum like this one (or another one that would let me and others with dissenting voices spout off from time to time) you wouldn't even be aware that LRP was anything other than what the people selling it say it is.

That, to me, is a big part of the problem with our so-called industry. It is controlled by a very small segment of its participants, and has been operating to protect vested interests -- often at the expense of new entrants to the industry, small producers, and the longer-term interests of the industry as a whole. In my opinion.

So, I'd imagine you'd say I think you're wrong to pay your dues and belong to ASI. I won't. I think it's important to know what's happening out there, and to have your say in it. Balance what they tell you against your own experience and what you read hear and elsewhere. Draw and act on your own conclusions.
Bill Fosher
Westmoreland, NH

R. Hamilton
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby R. Hamilton » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:35 pm

Self pity will not benefit anybody and especially an industry.

Based on my background, type of operation we run, my dad's teaching of being a student of what you do, and my mom's belief of not being afraid to express your beliefs or opinion on issues, I have challenged a lot of policies and directions during my positions of leadership within the sheep industry. I still think I am the only delegate to ever call a closed session on staff behavior and action based a welfare document. Never have I ever felt unwelcome to participate or asked to leave when I rocked the boat if I thought that the lack of direction or policy didn't work when I represented California as President of the CWGA or when I was Region 8 representative on the ASI Executive Board. The problem I have with this industry is how so many people will have an opinion (most of the time very good ideas), but will not take the time to participate. A big problem with the sheep industry is that there is not enough participation to expand ideas and direction to help the industry evolve. When it is the same people all the time, there gets to be a sense of ownership in not wanting to make changes, not look at new ideas and not giving up positions. Who fault is that? Topics on this forum express a lot of thought, opinion and direction on what the sheep industry should do or not do? Take some of that energy to your local, state or even national meeting if you want positive change or have more representation for your size or type of operation. These sheep organizations do not have exclusive membership qualifications.

On LRP Lamb: I have said it. Paul has said it. LRP Lamb Insurance is NOT the reason for the current lamb marketing crisis. Not having any age or quality parameters or standards is the reason. Heck, in 1991 Texas A&M documented in a US lamb market study these same problems and embarrassing we (the US Sheep Industry) did NOTHING about it. You probably could easily find other past studies that stated the same problems with the US Lamb Market. LRP Lamb did help reward abuses in holding lambs longer well pass being a lamb or well pass desirable carcass quality. As much as LRP Lamb is being criticized, the program is doing the sheep industry good by helping producers soften the blow on falling prices with high feed costs. If I was not using LRP Lamb, I would be asking NIman Ranch for more money for my lambs and Niman would have had to raise their prices to customers to meet my higher production costs. Both Niman Ranch and I would lose and probably lose volume in our lamb business. I would agree the insurance program does need changes, some changes would have to change government rules (allowing processors to buy insurance). But, are the poor government rules the fault of the leadership of the sheep industry? NO!

Attitude! I am so tired of bad attitude. It is the reason, the sheep industry is shrinking. It will be the reason it dies. Attitude to change. Attitude in respecting new and different ideas. Attitude in not respecting each other(within and among segments of the industry, size/type of operations, and East vs West). This forum is just as guilty as the operations and segments being criticized.

What is great about agriculture is that there is no right way of doing or producing things. As long as it makes sense to your environment and efficiently meets your financial obligation, you can do what you want. My father and I will steal ideas from any type and size of operation if we think it can move us forward in meeting our goals. If we hear or read about an interesting operation, we will take the time to visit it. My father is one of the deepest thinkers within the sheep industry in regards to production and genetic ideas and industry direction. We spend hours talking about where the industry is going, what can we do to help it and what does it mean to our operation. When people visit our operation, I will tell them that my genetic program is a product of trying to match genetic potential to our environmental and production resources. What works for me might not work for you, but the philosophy of doing business is transferable. Finishing lambs on grass does not work for our operation in my part of California, but it does not stop us from basing my genetics selection on grass performance. On the size of lamb we produce is based on what our biggest or majority market wants in age, weight and carcass quality. Its our goal to produce the type and desired quality as efficiently and consistent as possible. It also is our goal to match the variation of size and quality of lamb we produce to the most appropriate market for that size and quality of lamb. Consumers want consistent quality and taste from their lamb consuming experience no matter the market.

For the sheep industry to be sustainable we need volume in production to help stabilize and expand infrastructure. We need to get away from pushing lamb product thru the marketing chain, but let lamb product to be pulled thru the marketing chain based on desired quality, whether its large or small carcass. We need to maintain diversity of type production systems to meet the diversity of environmental conditions, but concentrate on the quality and efficiency within the diversity of systems. We need to learn agree to disagree but be respectful of each others role within the sheep industry no matter the size of operation or area of the country we come from. Lastly, if we have thoughts or ideas that can help improve the sheep industry, we need to take the initiative in participating in local, county, state and national organizations. It will be the US Sheep Industry who gets fleeced if we, collectively, do not do our part in helping to make positive change. Can't blame Superior. Can't blame Colorado lamb feeder. Can't blame the large Western sheep producer.

Richard

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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby Bill Fosher » Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:55 am

Richard,

You and whoever else can say that LRP didn't have anything to do with the current crisis until you're blue in the face, but that doesn't make it so. I have never argued that it was the sole cause, but that it was one of them is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. You say this yourself:

LRP Lamb did help reward abuses in holding lambs longer well pass being a lamb or well pass desirable carcass quality.


Presto! A way in which LRP helped create the current lamb marketing crisis. Even if we accept the highly debatable premise that the fact that these lambs were being held off the market had no impact on the price, the nasty overfat junk that was coming out of the feedlots wasn't desirable to our customers at any price. So now we have to win people back to lamb (which is 10,000 times harder than keeping them) and while we do that we will suffer reduced demand. Holding lambs longer cost us market share that we may never get back. If that's not harming the industry, I don't know what is.

Setting all that aside, even if LRP were perfectly designed and structured, and government regulations were exactly what was needed to make it so that it benefitted producers and didn't harm the industry, I would still oppose it.

I am in a part of the world where the primary agricultural industry is dairy, so forgive me if I'm not thrilled about being part of a business that relies on government-funded market manipulation to "soften the blow" when prices go down and production costs go up. I have seen how well that works, and it's essentially gives producers a means of barely hanging on year after year, facing grinding debt, political uncertainty, and constant stress.

Farms that should find an alternative business model struggle year after year because they're so tied in with obligations and contracts that they can't extricate themselves, and more and more of them are finding that the only way out involves finding that auctioneer's business card. MILC and all the other props that have kept them going since the 1980s have done nothing but discourage them from thinking about how to make their operations actually work, and ultimately encourage them to get out.

Every year dairy farmers spend all sorts of lobbying efforts aimed at getting subsidies lined up, price stabilization schemes worked out, and pricing formulas changed. Somebody's ox always gets gored, and it's usually the small farms that lose because -- we're told -- we have to protect the infrastructure and it's the large operations that support it. Sound familiar?

In my lifetime, we have gone from a time when milking 25 good cows was a business that could make a farmer an important economic engine in a small town, to today, when anything less than 500 cows is considered a small herd, and unsustainable practices such as relying on illegal immigrant labor at well below prevailing wage (and sometimes even below minimum wage) are considered so normal and necessary that they're now built into Farm Credit's benchmarks.

Is that what we want the future of the sheep business to look like? We've been on that track for years, and many of the big western producers are pretty well along it. Thinking positive isn't going to change our trajectory. Only looking at facts in the clear light of day and deciding to change our trajectory will change it.
Bill Fosher

Westmoreland, NH

OogieM
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby OogieM » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:26 am

R. Hamilton wrote:Take some of that energy to your local, state or even national meeting if you want positive change or have more representation for your size or type of operation.

We have been. I am one of the only smaller producers who goes to the CO Woolgrowers every single year. This past year we took burgers from 2 old rams butchered just before convention for the the welcome get together BBQ specifically to let some people taste our old intact ram mutton. Everyone liked it and all were surprised at the age and sex of what they were eating.
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R. Hamilton
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby R. Hamilton » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:54 am

Bill,

I will respect you opinion on LRP Lamb insurance and how you think it is the cause of the current lamb crisis. I will agree that LRP Lamb was like pouring gas on a fire. But, 200 lb lambs did not start this year and was not the started by the insurance program. I feel you are a student of opinion and of the sheep industry. Look at the history and see how long this is a very ongoing problem has existed and gets worse in abuse as the industry shrinks. It has been going on for better than 30 years and in fact the weight abuse get higher based on the size of the genetics to handle higher and higher weights. That is an embarrassment that WE are all responsible for by letting it happen. Blame the feeders! blame the processor! Blame ASI! Blame ALB! BUT WE NEED TO BLAME OURSELVES!!!!

How much money do you need to borrow to run your operation? 100,000? 500,000? 1 million or couple million? By using a program the right way is not being greedy, but being responsible for the investment in operation and being responsible for my obligation to my operating loan. What is wrong by government offering insurance on a market that is historically very unstable?

Personally, I don't really like government programs, but I also don't like the rules or limitations that government puts on my business. I do not like all the regulation my operation faces from labor to water to production practices that the government tries to dictate thru policies that are created based an idea or thought, but not on true science or the realism to the situation. Then, the government also mandates we produce cheap food. I do take advantage to the government programs, but I am not getting rich from them. There are abuses when non farm entities can qualify for ag programs and this is where the real abuse lies and gets all the publicity. Again, WE can blame ourselves for that!

First, the following is not a criticism to part time sheep operation that do it as a hobby or as a complimentary business to other business interest. There is a big difference between how you do business as a full time operation where you are dependent on employees for the labor, dealing with cash flow based on the seasonality of income, dealing with banks, raising input costs, dealing with markets, and dealing with the land and water issues. Economies of scale plays a huge role in developing efficiencies to help justify the cost of inputs to make a product efficiently. In any industry you will have abuses, but where do you come off with your comment on illegal labor. We get audited on our labor force and in fact we just got done with an audit from the US Labor Department for our H2A Employees and EDD has regular checks on employee living conditions. The abuse in illegal immigrant labor is not in their paycheck but the social benefits (ex. medical, housing, food stamps, public education programs) they get from our government thru our taxes to live in the US. Look at the cost of a pickup: in 1970s a 3/4 ton pickup 4 wd costs $6000 and today $40,000 and a diesel $50,000. Can you pay that cost on 100 ewe production system without additional resources helping it? How about a stock trailer? How about fancy corrals that are advertised in sheep supply catalogs? How about fencing? It would take a very long time, without additional assistance. Full-time operations have a very hard time staying ahead of the game and change does not happen as fast as an operation that has other interest to help subsides the change. I can't tell you how many operations in my lifetime I have seen that tried to either get into the sheep business with a plan to corner the market with a unique product or take their small part time operation and go full time and both examples fail based on the fact that they did not understand the realities of doing business full-time from a part time venture or they truly underestimated the cost of doing business based on the realities of the market and expense of doing business.

Don't use Dairy as a model to what the sheep industry could become. It is the MidWest and East Coast that have tried to use the confinement systems to work in raising sheep and it fails every time. Didn't the Polypay breeders in the Midwest work to supply a confinement operation a few years ago. Some of those sheep came West after that operation closed. You might not like the example I would model, because you have already criticized it in other posts. I would look at the CAB program as a model and also consider the wine and fruits and vegetable industries as other examples.

I will agree that the trajectory of the industry needs to change. The challenge is that it is very easy to comment about it, but it is the action of producers that will make it happen. If you don't vote, don't complain about the government. If you don't participate in trying to better the sheep industry by getting involved with the organization structure of the industry, don't complain about the direction it is going.

Richard

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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby Janet McNally » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:00 pm

R. Hamilton wrote: Look at the history and see how long this is a very ongoing problem has existed and gets worse in abuse as the industry shrinks. It has been going on for better than 30 years and in fact the weight abuse get higher based on the size of the genetics to handle higher and higher weights. That is an embarrassment that WE are all responsible for by letting it happen. Blame the feeders! blame the processor! Blame ASI! Blame ALB! BUT WE NEED TO BLAME OURSELVES!!!!



Richard, I am not sure how I am to blame for the large lamb problem. Can you elaborate? I think I am missing something. More importantly what is it that you think I can do to change the outcome without forsaking the growing demand for lamb that is knocking on the door (read new market development)?

Janet
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby McMurry » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:53 pm

Good comments and leadership.
Were the packers and or feeders able to buy LRP?
If the US industry needs more numbers of lighter / higher quality lambs (as ASI, Greg and others have pointed out) vs fewer larger / fatter ones - then the program (if it should even exist in the first place) should be tailored to favor the ewe flocks rather than (or at least ((perhaps)) as well as), the feedlots.
I do not know all the facts but ... it looks to me like the ones that crafted the LRP are the same ones giving lip service to lamb producers to produce more lambs (2+2) many of which do not have access to LRP. One group gets lip service to grow the national flock and the other group gets 10's $ of millions to help them over-ripen / devalue the ever shrinking supply of domestic lambs. Looks pretty certain that this crisis will increase the pace that our national flock is downsizing when compared to the time before LRP became so popular.
If the packers are able to ride the highs and lows of the market supply / demand dynamic with imports to buffer them, then they definitely should not be getting LRP benefits directly or indirectly .

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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby Joe Emenheiser » Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:10 pm

Richard:

I enjoy and learn from your posts, just as I do Bill's. I identify more with his positions on issues, but that is likely largely a matter of regional bias. Howard Wyman used to say that everyone in our industry must realize that what works for some doesn't work for others--yet in understanding our differences is where we find strength.

Your ideas for salvaging the broken commodity model in your region are as measured and rationally presented as anyone's. I truly do appreciate your efforts to offer true leadership schooled by thought and experience.

However, as nice as joining the "organized structure of the sheep industry" sounds in principle, a market where a single company holds a 40% share is not in any way "competitive"--that is a recipe for a sure screwing that I for one can smell from 2,500 miles away. It will therefore be difficult to convince those who have embraced opportunity (i.e., taken their own control and responsibility for the quality and price of their product(s) and thus managed to survive) to join hands and sing "kum ba yah" with the price takers.

The sell for unity is even more difficult when so much of the chatter in the circle sounds like the entitled moaning of a step-sibling on welfare. As you more diplomatically state, that needs to stop, but I think it is fair to assert that the welfare programs themselves are partly to blame. The false economy and irrelevant, crippling legislation created by overregulation is dissuasive enough to young farmers, without further fostering of irrelevance and misrepresentation by umbrella "industry" organizations seeking to find the "one size fits all" (no pun intended) solution.

In my experience, most of those folks who "don't vote" are simply too busy raising and marketing lamb to devote time to organizations that are controlled by and operating for the interests of the big guys only (at the expense of those who can do better on their own). The other issue is that most folks who have the grit to make the sheep/lamb business work do not have much patience for social clubs.

Although I personally wouldn't enjoy this mode of operation, there are several confinement sheep systems in Canada doing just fine. Regardless, I think Bill's point about the dairy industry had more to do with the side effects of price manipulations than it did about intensive management. To me it would be hard to argue with how the dairy industry/lobby/regulatory complex continually screws the little guy (above and beyond the high cost of doing business). Why the sheep industry would want to (further) adopt such a model, when it is mostly comprised of small producers, is beyond me. Unless the "sheep industry" is not all-encapsulating, as I have believed for some time.

I for one have never sold a lamb heavier than 140lbs, and even those were seldom older than 5 months. I have never taken LRP money, nor would I if it were available. I take your point about not pointing fingers, but I truly cannot think how I have contributed to the current problem, short of not participating in organizations for the reasons mentioned above .

I have many close friends and contacts who would would be affected far more than I, and as I wrote before, my heart goes out to those with fewer options to "make it work." But I thought Bill's "old barn" analogy was quite apropos. Anyone who has ever had to pull the plug on a loved one can understand how difficult it is to let go, but then anyone who lives with a small animal ICU tech understands how denial of reality (re: euthanasia) has a ripple effect for everyone involved--when not everyone is to blame.

I would thoughtfully entertain a rational argument to the contrary, but in many ways, joining, and supporting the sheep industry establishment to better the current situation seems in line with the notion that the "typewriter club" can help me better operate MS Word 2010. Until convinced otherwise, a combination of "Help" and "Google" seems to be offering workable solutions.

Joe
Last edited by Joe Emenheiser on Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Joe Emenheiser
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby Phil Crome » Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:17 pm

Mr. Hamilton,

I have written here before about my admiration for your thoughts, and I stand by that, but you've lost me here. If I understand you correctly, you are advocating for government support of agriculture because government regulates agriculture, regardless of the viability of the agricultural enterprise; saying that those of us who derive less than an entire living from the sheep business don't understand how difficult it is to derive such a living- never mind that many of those who do (including you, evidently) are doing it by accepting government assistance whether LRP or other; and asserting that any suggestion of agriculture taking predatory advantage of Illegal immigrant labor is offensive.

The fact is that very few folks in agriculture are making their living as rugged individualists, pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps every morning. Crop insurance (LRP included) is another in a series of ever-larger scams put over on the American taxpayer at the behest of the agriculture lobby. When it all shakes out, the taxpayer is on the hook for 75 cents of every dollar paid out, if the latest figures are correct. Explain to me how that is not a direct subsidy, and why it isn't a scam. If you take the king's shilling, you do the king's bidding, as one Bill Fosher has quoted.

I've already said that I'm not interested in how hard it is for you or anyone else to make a living in the field that you chose. You seem to be a person with your eyes open, so I can't imagine that you woke up one morning and said "Holy crap, this is a mess." You have written at length about you and your family's long status in the industry and your individual practices as forward-thinking people, which I believe absolutely, but if you've seen this coming and chosen to stay in it, then don't tell me about how hard it is to make a living. As a smart fellow, if you think there's no future in doing what you're doing, quit doing it. As the man said when he looked up from making love to a wildcat, "You know, I believe I've had all of this I want."

Agriculture and the packing industry have a long and miserable record of taking advantage of the poor and powerless wherever and however they can to provide ever-cheaper labor. I expect you're doing it right, but there's a pile that aren't. The fact is that places like megadairies and packing houses are often net drags on their local economies because of the services that yes, the taxpayers have to provide to their employees because the wages provided by their employers are not sufficient to satisfy basic needs. Nobody in agriculture wants a closed border because it would require them to pay an actual wage in order to attract employees who are not motivated by desperation.

I respect and admire your passion and long-standing commitment to the industry, but I respectfully disagree with you on these issues.
Phil Crome

UA Local 23 Journeyman and part-time shepherd
Elizabeth, IL

"Have you had a fecal test done?": probably my epitaph.

Bill Fosher
Chief Shepherd
Posts: 5902
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:27 pm
Location: Westmoreland, NH
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Re: Ranchers getting fleeced?

Postby Bill Fosher » Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:49 pm

Richard,

LIke others have said, I respect your longstanding commitment to the sheep business, and by all accounts you're a smart guy. Smarter than me, because I cannot for the life of me figure out how to join the ASI as an individual. My state organization is moribund and is no longer a member of the ASI (a fact that dates back to some singularly anti-Eastern and anti-small flock policies enacted many years ago). I joined the NLFA this summer when I attended the Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership school, and that was supposed to confer ASI membership, and yet no membership has been forthcoming.

I try to do what I can. I'm not big on going to meetings. I'm on a few local ag boards and they eat up enough time. One of the reasons I set up this forum was to try to provide a place to exchange ideas, air proposals, and help each other out of tight spots. I think I speak for the majority of this forum that we respect and value the perspective that you bring, and I sincerely hope that the other perspectives you gain on this board might have some impact on your thinking.

I will completely stand by what I have said about the reliance of the New England dairy industry on illegal labor. It is a fact. Many New England dairies are one well-timed visit from ICE or similar to being out of business. And in reality, most of these workers contribute a great deal to the tax base both federally and locally. Most never leave the farm for fear of detection and because they don't speak the language, so they are not on food stamps. They don't file for refunds of the taxes that are withheld from their pay checks. But to me the fact that dairies can't operate without them is the symptom, not the problem. I don't want to see the sheep business become a government farming scheme.
Bill Fosher

Westmoreland, NH


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