Legislative & Policy

The Idaho Wool Growers Association works on behalf of the Idaho Sheep Industry to preserve, protect, and promote all facets of production. The IWGA engages policy at the state and federal level, working with stakeholders, and ensuring the viability of sheep production in Idaho.

Idaho Sheep Industry Priorities

Insurance Programs

Wool Marketing Assistance Loan & Loan Deficiency Payment

  • The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes nonrecourse marketing assistance loans (MALs) and loan deficiency payments (LDPs) for wool to eligible producers who grow and shear wool.
  • The national loan rate for graded wool established in 2002 is $1.15/pound. The nongraded wool rate established in 2002 is $0.40 per pound. These rates have not kept pace with markets and producer costs, which has been further exacerbated by inflation.
  • With the recent low levels of producer income, IWGA supports a re-examination of the wool loan rate and an adjustment to provide an effective risk management tool for sheep producers.

Development & Implementation of Lamb Insurance Product

  • The American lamb industry has faced unprecedented volatility and drastic price swings. What began during the COVD-19 pandemic with market demand dropping 40% overnight, continued into 2022 with market prices crashing from $2.50/lb to less than $1.00/lb in under six months.
  • With no futures market or active insurance products to help producers hedge against price swings, lamb producers have had to weather the storm completely on their own.
  • An insurance program would grant lamb producers stability and allow for the industry to set a stronger foundation for the next generation of producers, IWGA supports the development and implementation of a lamb insurance program.

Trade & Check-Off

American Lamb Check-Off Program

  • The national Lamb Checkoff, directed by the American Lamb Board (ALB), is a mandatory live weight assessment of $0.007/lb. paid by all sectors of the lamb industry at time of each sale. The annual budget of the ALB is approximately $2.5 million, one of the smallest national assessment programs.
  • Unlike the beef check-off program, importers do not pay into the lamb check-off program on imported lamb.
  • The IWGA supports a re-examination of the American Lamb Board Check-Off program efficacy and structure.
  • The IWGA opposes the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act of 2023.

Lamb Imports

  • Imports now make up approximately 75 percent of the U.S. retail market. The United States imported approximately 23,723 metric tons in 1993. By 2022, imports had increased, to 152,646 metric tons.
  • The strength of the U.S. dollar relative to the Australian and New Zealand dollar give our competitors the ability to undercut the price of American Lamb.
  • The IWGA supports all efforts to protect and strengthen Idaho’s sheep industry.

Renewable Energy

Lava Ridge Wind Project and Wind Turbines

  • The Lava Ridge Wind Project would reduce Animal Unit Month (AUMs), displace sheep from their offspring, reduce the ability to utilize aircraft to control predators, and potentially displace sheep producers who utilize allotments to lamb out their bands of sheep.
  • Windmills and the Lava Ridge Wind Project height restrictions on wind turbines make utilizing aircraft nearly impossible for predator control and/or fire suppression. Operators utilize aircraft to remove harmful predators such as coyotes who prey on young lambs. If aerial suppression is removed or severely hampered as a tool fight fires in the area, it creates more fire risk in the area, effecting local communities in addition to agriculture.
  • The IWGA opposes the Lava Ridge Wind Project and wind turbine development on public lands.

Solar Project Development on Public Lands

  • The Bureau of Land Management is proposing large scale solar project developments on public lands across the west.
  • While solar and sheep grazing have had positive results in private land settings, the IWGA is concerned about the development of solar on public land allotments.

H-2A Labor

  • Sheep production is highly labor intensive, and Idaho Sheep Producers rely on labor through the H-2A program. Idaho sheep producers work diligently to stay in compliance with regulations from the DOL, all while maintaining a high quality of life for their workers.
  • The Adverse Effect Wage Rate threatens the viability and financial stability of sheep producers in Idaho. While the cost of doing business has drastically increased, the price of lambs hasn’t followed the same trend, putting pressure on the viability of sheep production in Idaho.
  • The IWGA supports the Supporting Farm Operations Act of 2024, reverting the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) to the December 2023 rate through the end of the 2025 growing season.

American Sheep Industry Association Priorities

The Idaho Wool Growers Association is a member of the American Sheep Industry Association and aligns with their policy positions. Policy positions can be found below or on the ASI website.

Legislative Action Committee

The Legislative Action Committee monitors and works on current issues and policies affecting Idaho sheep producers. The five-person committee meets regularly and is made up of the following members. 

Jack Blattner, Chair
Kuna, Idaho

J.C. Siddoway
St. Anthony, Idaho

John Noh
Kimberly, Idaho

John Peterson
Emmett, Idaho

Sheila Hasselstrom
Winchester, Idaho

Scroll To Top