Sheep producers can now apply for the ewe-lamb replacement and retention program at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. The Bush Administration has committed $18 million in funding for this final year of the ewe-lamb program, which is aimed at strengthening the U.S. sheep industry.
USDA announced program availability earlier this year to allow producers the opportunity to retain or purchase ewe lambs for their breeding herd. The announcement of the sign-up, therefore, has been anticipated by producers with the program requirements being essentially the same as in recent years.
The base period for eligibility is Aug. 1, 2003 to July 31, 2004. Sign-up began on Oct. 25, 2004.
"We commend the Administration for providing this program to sheep producers," stated American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Executive Director Peter Orwick. "This program is particularly valuable for those operators who experienced severe drought conditions in 2002 and were unable to expand their sheep herds because of insufficient feed or water."
"We expect the application period to be available for several weeks. However, I encourage producers to have their paperwork filed by mid November," said ASI President and Ohio sheep producer Guy Flora. "This is in anticipation of the sign-up period ending in mid to late November so payments can be made in December of 2004."
Producers should contact their local FSA office for the program details and application.