Sheep producers have until Jan. 13 so sign up for ewe program

Area producers have until Jan. 13 to sign up for the $18 million Ewe Lamb Replacement and Retention Payment Program.

The federal program pays producers to expand their ewe lamb breeding stock. Signup for the program started Oct. 25.

“By increasing the value and number of domestic lambs, this program will help our nation’s sheep operations achieve sustained market competitiveness,” said James Little, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

An estimated 66,800 sheep and lamb operations in the United States have experienced long-term poor market conditions, which has led to reduced incomes.

Increased imports and extreme drought conditions in domestic sheep-producing areas have forced producers to decrease production and flock size.

The 2003 lamb production is expected to total 4.13 million, down 5 percent from 2002.

ELRRPP payments are expected to begin the end of January. Subject to the availability of funds, producers will receive $18 for each qualifying ewe lamb retained or purchased for breeding purposes during a specified period.

If the amount of approved applications exceeds available funding, USDA will uniformly apply a national factor to reduce payments to producers.

Producers must apply for the program by completing form FSA-384, “Ewe Lamb Replacement/ Retention Payment Program Application.”

This form is available at local FSA offices and on the USDA’s Web site.

Bill Harmon is executive director of the FSA office for Marion County, which is located in Marion.

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