Looking Back on 2022, Moving on to 2023
By Wyoming Wool Growers Association
It has been a challenging year for sheep producers in Wyoming. Last year, we benefited from increased demand for American lamb, providing a well-earned income boost to producers for the quality protein we consistently produce.
But, in the lead-up to selling lambs this year, live lamb prices dropped month after month as consumers responded to inflation and poor economic conditions by tightening their belts.
Wyoming producers moving their lambs to market this fall were faced with low prices and a market saturated with heavier lambs waiting for processing, combined with a labor shortage to handle the work.
Year in review
We worked with the American Sheep Industry Association to gain congressional support for a Section 32 lamb purchase of this year’s maturing lamb crop, and we anticipate an announcement on this purchase soon.
Many of us have always known challenges to the economic viability of American sheep producers can be sudden and devastating. It is why the Wyoming Wool Growers Association (WWGA) was started so many years ago and why it is here for Wyoming producers today.
By working together, our members have created one voice for Wyoming sheep and wool producers. They have laid a strong foundation for successful sheep enterprises in Wyoming so we can reduce risks to the financial bottom line of our industry and maintain continued production of sheep commodities Americans want.
This year, our association has continued its good work on behalf of our membership, and we’ve made some changes along the way, including welcoming Sheep Specialist Alison Crane as WWGA’s new executive director in July.
Membership is already benefiting from Alison’s hands-on approach to helping our industry, so don’t be surprised to see her show up at the shipping corrals, organizing community shearing events or putting on workshops for small-flock producers.
WWGA is partnering with the University of Wyoming (UW), the Wyoming Wool Initiative and UW’s Collegiate Wool Growers to bring producers across the state more information, resources and educational opportunities than ever before.
We are building a team to aid the sheep industry in the state to be more vibrant than ever before by pooling together all of our resources. We look forward to sharing these opportunities with our members and sheep producers across the state as they arise.
Policy issues have also taken center stage for WWGA this year as state wildlife officials consider a proposal to transplant Bighorn sheep into the Sweetwater Rocks of central Wyoming.
Because of existing federal policies mandating the separation of domestic sheep from Bighorn sheep, the proposal stands to adversely impact livestock producers adjacent to the reintroduction site.
We’ve mobilized producers, retained legal counsel and attended meeting after meeting, working to ensure all stakeholders are aware of the issues this proposal poses to sheep producers. We’ve made headway in gaining a united front in seeking change to these harmful federal policies.
While the Sweetwater Rocks is just one proposal, we’re also working to support several western Wyoming producers in retaining access to their National Forest grazing permits in western Wyoming, which are also threatened by this species separation policy.
We’ll keep everyone posted as we continue to work through the process.
to the year ahead
Whether finding resolutions to rangeland conflicts or finding a way forward through unprecedented circumstances, WWGA represents all Wyoming sheep producers – from hair sheep to wool sheep and from those just establishing their flocks to the shepherd families who have been in the business for generations.
We are a producer organization serving as a voice on matters of importance to our members and Wyoming’s sheep industry. Our commitment to the industry remains unchanged.
Our organization is only as strong as its membership, so we ask individuals to take time to consider the role they play in WWGA. Be on the lookout in upcoming newsletters for more information about our work in the next year and roles members can play in our association so it can succeed.
We encourage individuals to renew their commitment to our industry today through membership in WWGA.
Don’t hesitate to contact Alison or any of WWGA’s board members with questions or concerns or simply to discuss how to improve conditions for our industry as we move forward into 2023.
WWGA originally published this letter in their January newsletter. For more information, visit wyowool.com.