Lawmakers seek USDA aid for sheep ranchers

The USDA needs to step in to help sheep ranchers in the West following the bankruptcy of the second-largest U.S. sheep processor, said leaders of the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. “The closure also comes at a time when the sheep industry was already forecast to lose more than $350 million due to Covid-19-related market declines, and feedlots are already at peak capacity in many places,” said the lawmakers in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

The letter asked the USDA to “use all available authorities and funding” to help producers find alternative processing and marketing outlets.

Lawmakers did not name the defunct processor, but they were apparently referring to the Mountain State Rosen plant in Greeley, Colorado. The processing and distribution facility was purchased last month by JBS USA Holdings, which planned to convert it to a ground beef and steak processing plant, said the Gillette News Record. A dozen Western senators have asked the Justice Department to open an antitrust investigation into the purchase. Mountain State Rosen handled 20 percent of U.S. sheep slaughter.

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