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ALB provides update

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Industry representation and diversity was top of mind when the Mandatory Lamb Checkoff was developed, requiring the 13-member American Lamb Board (ALB) to meet specific criteria to represent the entire U.S. sheep industry.

ALB is composed of representatives from two geographic regions – east and west of the Mississippi River. The board includes six producers, three feeder representatives, three first handlers and one seedstock producer. 

The board exists to provide information to the industry on lamb and sheep marketing and responsibilities include setting policies to guide the board and staff, ensuring assessments are collected and income is spent responsibility, reviewing and approving program plans and budgets, attending and actively participating in meetings and calls, developing program goals and strategies and evaluating the effectiveness of programs.

During the 2023 West Central States Wool Growers Annual Convention, held Nov. 2-4 in Boise, Idaho, ALB Chair Peter J. Camino of Buffalo provided attendees with an update from the board. 

Funding and finances

To begin, Camino pointed out ALB is not funded through import money. Instead, the board is funded through checkoff dollars paid by all segments of the U.S. sheep industry. 

“During COVID-19, we took a big hit and our finances dropped from nearly $2 million to $1.2 million,” Camino explained. 

He further noted, following the pandemic, many sale barns weren’t accurately reporting the number of livestock they moved, so ALB conducted an initiative to improve sale barn reports. 

“We went out to the sale barns and our revenue nearly doubled,” he stated. “This year, our budget was around $3.1 million, so we had a lot more money to work with. It is quite an improvement from what weʼve had in the past.”

Supply and demand

When it comes to lamb supply and demand, Camino mentioned there is both good and bad news. 

He noted there has been a huge increase in consumer demand for lamb, especially in the wake of COVID-19, as many consumers were forced to cook more meals at home and started experimenting with different protein sources. 

“People found out how good lamb is, and we saw historic, sky-high prices,” he said.

On the other hand, the U.S. lamb crop has continued to plummet, producing nearly 100 million pounds less than in 2007. 

ALB efforts

To combat this, ALB has committed time, effort and funding to help the U.S. produce more lamb and improve marketing strategies.

“At ALB, we are trying to recapture market shares, with a focus on regulating American lamb in the U.S. industry, addressing consumer demand, monitoring export markets and increasing the quality and consistency of our product,” Camino shared. 

He noted ALB recently acquired a $5 million grant for a study on climate-friendly, sustainable grazing. The research will look at implementing grazing under solar panels on over 10 million acres of land in the eastern U.S.

“If we can prove there are benefits to this and get more people into the sheep business, we can hopefully get more lamb produced in the U.S.,” he said. 

Additionally, Camino noted ALB is working with Michigan State University on new technology for carbon capture, which is set to be released during the American Sheep Industry Association Convention in Denver Jan. 10-13, 2024. The new technology will be used to better understand how much carbon sheep produce and if a market exists for producers to sell carbon credits. 

“It is something else producers can add to their bottom line,” Camino stated. 

ALB has also worked with the University of Wyoming on a benchmarking study to help bankers better understand the finances behind a sheep operation and with the University of Idaho on lamb quality audits, lamb flavor studies and other new technology.

“ALB is a member of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, so we help monitor, create opportunities and fund programs to support markets where American lamb is exported,” Camino added. 

With this, Camino noted the U.S. exports 5.5 million pounds of lamb to markets in Mexico, Canada and Taiwan. The nation also imports 270 million pounds and produces 103 million pounds. 

Camino concluded his presentation by noting ALB has also spent a considerable amount of time marketing American lamb through promotional videos, blogs, social media campaigns and lamb recipes.

Over the past year, ALB created and released 45 new recipes and reached over 40 million people through their online blog.

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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