WASHINGTON — Recently, 11 US senators wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting the US Department of Agriculture make an immediate purchase of this year’s American lamb using its Section 32 authority, announced the American Sheep Industry Association.

Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935 authorizes the USDA to support the prices of commodities in surplus through market purchases and domestic distribution. According to the American Sheep Industry Association, lamb producers are facing repercussions of increased supply now that beef, pork and chicken markets are gaining traction again.

“During the pandemic, American farmers, ranchers and families endured severe price volatility at the supermarket,” the senators’ wrote in their letter. “Labor shortages at meatpacking and processing facilities, combined with supply chain issues, limited the availability of beef, pork and chicken. In response, American sheep farmers and ranchers helped close the shortfall by increasing their lamb herds, and demand for lamb increased alongside it. Now that market conditions have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, demand for beef, pork and chicken has rebounded. As a result, domestic lamb supply now outstrips demand, leaving lamb prices stagnant and lamb feeders struggling to find outlets for their maturing surplus.”

The senators added that the proposed USDA intervention is intended to provide farmers the short-term stability to sustain their farms as they work to realign production with current demand.

The letter was signed by Senators Michael Bennet (Colo.), John Hoeven (ND), Kevin Cramer (ND), John Hickenlooper (Colo.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), James Risch (Idaho), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Michael Rounds (SD), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and John Thune (SD).