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The American Lamb Board
The Lamb Checkoff

How many of you have heard of the American Lamb Board and the Lamb Checkoff (an assessment producers are required to pay by law)?

The American Lamb Board is an industry-funded research and promotions commodity board that represents all sectors of the American Lamb industry including producers, feeders, seed stock producers, and processors. The 13-member Board, appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, is focused on increasing demand by promoting the freshness, flavor, nutritional benefits, and culinary versatility of American Lamb. The work of the American Lamb Board is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the board’s programs are supported and implemented by the staff in Denver, Colorado.

The Lamb Promotion, Research, and Information Order (Order) is established under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 [7 U.S.C. 7411-7425; Public Law 104-127]. . The program became effective on April 11, 2002, when the Order was issued. Assessments began on July 1, 2002.

American Lamb Board Vision
A unified, thriving American Lamb industry that concentrates its resources around a prioritized and measurable plan that fosters the opportunity for profitability for all contributors.

American Lamb Board Mission
To increase the value of American Lamb for all segments contributing to the American Lamb Checkoff program.

Strategic initiatives

Increase consumer awareness about the benefits of American Lamb and influence consumers to increase their purchase frequency
And now, what is the Lamb Checkoff?

According to literature I received in the mail, all sheep, regardless of age or sex, are subject to the assessment (all feeder lambs, market lambs, breeding stock, and cull animals) when sold. In other words, anytime that an ovine animal (any age, any sex) is sold, the seller is required to pass on one-seventh cent ($0.007) per pound of live weight to the purchaser. This is the equivalent of $0.70 cents per 100 pounds. The first handler is the packer or person who owns, buys, or takes possession of the animal from a producer or feeder for slaughter. The first handler is required to collect and remit the $0.007 cents per pound of live weight from the producer, pay that PLUS a $0.42 cent per head assessment upon slaughter using the required Form LS-81 which can be found at www.lambcheckoff.com.

After reading through the literature, I wasn't sure if most Babydoll breeders would be included since the literature seemed to be mentioning slaughter a lot so I logically wondered if a Babydoll "producer" was included in this since very few of us slaughter or sell Babydolls for slaughter.

I decided to call the contact person listed in the brochure and explained "our" situation and how the majority of the Babydoll Southdown sheep breeders breed and sell the offspring as companion pets, to 4-H markets, as breeding stock to sell to other breeders to be used as breeding stock, as grazers in vineyards, sustainable agriculture, and organic farming, and to fiber artists so they may harvest the sheep's fleece and turn it into wool. I explained that not many are sold for slaughter but I'm sure a few do wind up on the dinner table.

I was asked about what happens when they get old and can't breed anymore, aren't they slaughtered then? My answer, "Not too many are." And explained the Babydolls are usually kept to be used as grazers and if their health gets very bad, a vet is usually called to euthanize them and they are buried in the family pet cemetery.

Rae Maestas, the contact at the ALB I spoke with, conferred with her associates and called me back the next day. What I was told, was the Babydolls are a unique breed in comparison to most of the other breeds of sheep the ALB usually works with.

However, we, the Babydoll breeder [producer], are still responsible for the assessment. But, unless you are selling the lamb/sheep to someone you know is planning to immediately slaughter it, you can simply give your buyer the LS-81 form and tell them if the sheep is slaughtered, they are required to pay the checkoff.

If you [producer] are selling to someone who you know is planning to slaughter [first handler], then you would give the buyer $0.007 per pound of live weight; and they, the buyer [first handler] in turn, would submit that, plus $0.007 per pound for any weight gain before slaughter, plus $0.42 per head to the ALB. If you are both the producer and the first handler, then you are responsible for paying the assessment even if you are putting the lamb on your own dinner table. The assessment would be $0.007 cents per live weight at slaughter plus $0.42 cents per head.

However, because there are so few Babydoll Southdowns ever slaughtered, I did ask if we, as sheep breeders, want to support the American Lamb Board, when we sell any lambs or sheep regardless of whether they will ever be slaughtered, can we submit the ($0.007) per live weight to the Lamb Checkoff program? Yes, we can but we are not required to unless the sheep is actually slaughtered.

Assume you sell 20 lambs each weighing 50 pounds. Your lamb checkoff assessment would be $7.00. I don't know about you, but I think I can handle $7.00 a year and will begin submitting the first portion of the checkoff [producer (me) to first handler (the sheep's first owner) to the ALB], explain the checkoff to the first owner and give them a copy of the LS-81 form.

For more details, explanations, exemptions, reporting requirements and records, etc., visit www.lambcheckoff.com or call
Rae Maestas at (303) 759-3001 Ext. 3.

A lot of other information about lamb, including recipes, can be found on the American Lamb Board website too.