Sign up for all three federal lamb payment programs continues at a strong pace across the United States this month, according to the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), the organization that sponsored programs with the Department of Agriculture.

In early September, USDA county Farm Service Agency offices began processing payments for Year Four of the Lamb Market Adjustment Assistance Program, which continues through the summer of 2003.

"The feeder lamb payments at $3 per head is a simple program to participate in, but reminds producers that they need to complete the advance notification form at their county FSA office before shipping lambs," said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. "Producers fill out the advance form at their county office at the beginning of each shipping season including location of lambs at the farm or ranch and number of lambs. A second trip to the county office after shipping to complete the 383 form and file sales receipts then allows the payment to be processed."

The retained ewe lamb program is also in wide use this month with producers deciding on breeding ewe lambs to retain for the herd.

"A lamb under 18 months of age that has not yet produced offspring qualifies for the $18 per head payment and the producer certifies that the animal will be kept in the herd for a entire breeding/marketing cycle," said Orwick. "The full $13 million authorized for this new program was used for Year Three at the $18 rate, and we have $13 million authorized for Year Four.

"Slaughter lamb payments continue for Year Four as well with growers and feeders using the FSA 383 form to accompany the lambs to the slaughter plant for completion by the USDA meat grader, which is then returned to the individual to file with the county office. The slaughter lamb payment rate is $5 per qualifying lamb and nearly 30 percent of lambs nationwide qualify," added Orwick.

"In situations where producers have experienced problems in getting the paperwork to follow the lambs through slaughter they have opted to sell feeder lambs instead and participate in that program," said Orwick.

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