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Summaries of Projects Financed by
the NLPA Sheep & Goat Fund

SHEEP & SHEEP-RELATED PROJECTS

Project #2 -- Sheep Dairy

This loan was established with a sheep dairy in upstate New York to purchase milking equipment. The dairy recently began its first full season of milk production. The main goals of the dairy are to be milking 250 ewes and producing over 75,000 pounds of Grade A milk in 2003. The sheep milk will be bagged and frozen in an on-site, walk-in, blast freezer, and then trucked to the Albany-area cheesemaker. Market lambs are sold locally to New York State consumers.

The domestic market for sheep-milk products is extremely strong, particularly in the Northeast. The dairy, which is operated by an individual with extensive experience as a shepherd and dairy farm worker, has contracted to sell its milk to a New York State cheesemaker. There has been considerable interest in the dairy among (cow) dairy farmers in the region, where many are looking for financially viable alternatives to traditional dairying. The success of this sheep dairy project will serve as a model for those looking for a profitable alternative to the marginally viable dairy farms of the region.

Project #3 -- Sheep & Goat Slaughter Facility

This loan was established with a slaughter facility for lambs and goats in Pennsylvania, which is using funds for building and equipment upgrades in order to increase the facility's slaughter capacity.

The facility has been in operation since 1986 and since then the owners reported an increase in sales. The facility's customer base is in the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and New York City areas. The facility is also the sole supplier of premium lamb carcasses and primal parts to a business that processes value-added lamb products.

The funded project consists of two-phases. First an additional 1550 square feet will be added to the slaughter area. With this increased area, the facility owners will be able to install an inverted pelting system in the future without having to conduct major renovations. The second phase of the project will be to incorporate a new 1660 square foot facility for processing case ready/cryovaced lamb products.

Project #4 -- Lamb Processing/Fabricating Operation

This loan was established with a lamb processing/fabricating operation in Pennsylvania to expand its physical building and add equipment to increase its volume of high quality, branded lamb products sold to high-end restaurants.

The company purchases contracted lamb carcasses from a slaughter facility and processes them into a consistent product that is geared toward five-star eating establishments in areas such as New York, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and San Francisco. The facility owner's goal is to provide an added value product to consumers, which will in turn reward the farmers for producing a better, more consistent product.

The new building and processing equipment have allowed the company to triple its production quantity. The expansion has increased the company's ability to commit to processing a greater number of contracted lambs.

Project #6/7/8 -- Lamb Breeding Operations

Three lamb-breeding operations in Western Nebraska have secured loan funds in order to increase their operations to better supply replacement Polypay ewes for the out-of-season lamb production market.

The combined goal of the three projects is to perfect the genetics in these sheep that have the capability of lambing out of season and have the lean carcass qualities that are considered desirable in today's market. The operations noted two challenges facing the issue of out-of-season lambing. First, the continual decline of the number of sheep producers in the United States and, second, the limited availability of flocks possessing the genetics to supply lamb on a year round basis.

The loan monies are being used to purchase equipment and facilities to achieve the rapid expansion needed to meet the potential market demand.

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Project #11 -- Lamb and Goat Meat Fabrication Plant

This loan was established with a Texas processing and fabrication facility to fund the purchase of equipment needed for fabrication of lamb and goat carcasses and the construction of the building to house the fabrication plant.

The fabrication addition is a 10,000 square foot building that includes coolers, freezers, a fabrication retail room and a loading dock. The building will also house the latest in packing and carcass fabrication equipment.

This new fabrication facility will allow for the development of new products by the company and will increase sales of American lamb by making a wider variety of products from each carcass available, thus providing more products to the consumer. With case-ready packaging, retailers will be provided with an attractive product for display, which is appealing to the customer and will have a shelf life superior to traditional packaging procedures at the retail level.

Project #12 -- Sheep Cheese Processor

This loan provided funding for an upgrade in milking equipment, cheese processing and handling equipment and road access to the cheese ripening cave, as well as, working capitol to support higher operating costs until financial benefits of the expansion are received and refinancing of current debt at a considerably reduced rate. This cheese company produces and markets a trademarked product, a specialty sheep cheese widely regarded as one of the best cheeses in the country. They have received numerous awards since 1993, most recently, the prestigious "Best of Show" award at the 2000 American Cheese Society's competition in Sonoma, CA and best U.S. Sheep Cheese in the 2001 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. They work with a guild of five farms in Vermont and New Hampshire to produce their award-winning cheeses.

Project #13 -- Lamb Feeder / Processor

This loan provided funding for upgrade in feed handling and processing equipment and refinanced current retrofitting of barn facilities including feed processing and handling equipment. The funding will allow this operation to function with a lower cost structure and cash flow more efficiently. This operation works in cooperation with two other vertically integrated systems, currently funded through the NLPA Sheep and Goat Fund, to provide a high quality lamb fed for specific established markets. Aligning with these established processors and producers of high quality finished lamb, allows them to produce a brand name, high quality product in an economically positive environment. Their goal is to increase the demand for a better tasting, high quality lamb, thus improving the interest in domestic lamb production and sales.

Project #20 -- Case-Ready Lamb Processing Facility

The funding received by this lamb processor in Iowa was used to expand exiting facilities by 10,000 feet in order to house the plant's case-ready program. Funds were also used to purchase case-ready processing equipment in order to meet the growing demand for case-ready meats in the Midwest. The company has more than 100 employees throughout the harvesting and processing facility; five to 10 were added as a result of the case-ready expansion. The company is one of the largest lamb processors in the United States. It is partially owned by lamb producers - there are 13 owner/producers. Another 500 producers in 14 states provide 430,000 live lambs annually. By controlling the product from live lamb to case-ready cuts, the company can give more detailed feedback to its producer-owners.

Project #21 -- Genetics Program

This loan has helped an Arizona sheep breeder become a producer of superior genetics (sheep, embryos, artificial insemination, and semen) for sale to an international market. Karoo Genetics, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., was founded in 1995 for the purpose of bringing top quality meat sheep genetics to the North American sheep industry. The company's primary focus has been the importation and production of Dorper sheep.The loan with the Sheep & Goat Fund was established about 18 months ago and has been used to further develop the ranch and to enhance the embryo program. Karoo Genetics has also donated Dorper rams to several universities including, Wyoming, Texas A & M and Chico, Calif., to be utilized in research crossbreeding programs designed to improve USA meat sheep carcass quality.

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Project #22 -- Livestock Merchandising Center

This loan will help the University of Tennessee Meat Goat and Sheep Education and Research Center at the Livestock Teaching Center of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Martin campus in completing construction of a Livestock Merchandising Center dedicated to the public merchandising of all species of livestock, especially sheep and goats, and to establish a teaching and research complex for sheep and meat goats. The project is primarily directed at research, education and outreach to assist producers in developing production programs and marketing strategies to enhance the sheep and meat goat industry in Tennessee and the surrounding region.

Project #24 -- Sheep Meat Supplier

Funds for this loan will be used to create the infrastructure to develop a business plan for a sheep operation in Oklahoma. The operation is the largest sheep or goat operation in two counties, according to the county's Farm Service Agency’s County Executive Director. This business is located in an agricultural area that is approximately 98 percent cattle ranches. After extensive research it was determined that there was a need to develop a sheep business to supplying a whole carcass product for a niche market in this area of the state. The demand for this product is growing in the area especially because of the growing ethnic communities in the Dallas area. They have achieved a level of production where they supply a desirable, marketable product that is name recognizable.

Project #29 -- Sheep Operation

A sheep operation in Illinois is using funds to purchase equipment, expand its feeding facilities and to increase its working capital. The business is recycling hog facilities and constructing hoop buildings to increase the size of the operation.

Project #32 -- Meat Pie Production

A food processing company in Utah is using funds to introduce Lamb Aussie-style Pies using sub-primal cuts of lamb (ground lamb) and primal cuts of lamb as a Ready-to-Eat product for marketing, sales and distribution on a local, regional and national basis. Capital is being used to purchase automated equipment and to provide working capital to increase its market share on a national level.

Project #34 -- Lamb & Goat Processing Plant

A group of producers in Kentucky formed a business to purchase a recently renovated USDA meat processing plant. NLPA Sheep & Goat Funds have been used to help with the purchase of the plant. The business will focus on identifiying needs within the Hispanic and Muslim consumers in the area that are not currently being met. It will also focus on working with local producers to help add value to their products.

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Project #35 -- Risk Management Company

A company in Colorado used funds to develop a risk management tool previously unavailable to sheep producers. Lamb price insurance is offered by the company to protect sheep and lamb producers against widely fluctuating prices.

Project #37 -- Lamb Finishing Operation

A farm in Ohio used funds to enhance its lamb finishing operation. The farm has a marketing relationship with custom processing companies and needs to maintain an adequate supply of lambs and working capital to grow this relationship and better meet the demand for custom-fed lambs.

Project #40 -- Wool Processing

A company in Wyoming is using funds to establish an early state wool processing facility.The objective of the company is to enable producers to add value to their wool, thereby increasing their profitablity and sustaining the rural way of life. The facility will offer the following services/products: wool scouring, blending, combing, carding, spinning, top, roving and yarn and is pursuing non-traditional uses of wool.

Project #41 -- Lamb & Goat Feedlot

This loan was established with a goat and lamb feedlot in Tennessee.  The Tennessee goat/sheep industry needs a facility such as this because some producers, for whatever reason, lack the ability to, or means to market the most desirable size.  Lighter weight animals will be purchased and carried to a more demanding weight.

The funds are being used to build a large barn consisting of 30 inside pens with each pen having access to outside paddocks.  In addition, large creep feeders, hay mangers and troughs will be acquired.

The advantage of this facility is that the animals will be on hand when the demand is peak, which will maximize profits.  One other advantage is the ability to purchase animals when supply is heavy and demand is low, thereby creating a more stable market for area producers.

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Project #42 -- Wool Washable Process Plant

This loan was established with a sheep company to bring a wool washable process to the United States. The funds will be used for approximately half of the payment of a second-hand wool shrink resistant treatment equipment line.

This process will help the U.S. wool producer by making it easier to process washable wool products in the U.S. and increase the use of American wool by U.S. military. The process will help obtain further military wool product business, support domestic wool mills and processors, build new business and eliminate the risk of losing current knitwear business to the military due to lack of dependable shrink process in the United States.

Project #43 -- Lamb Cooperative

This loan was established with a Cooperative in the lamb industry. The Cooperative was formed to allow lamb producers the opportunity to participate in a vertically integrated lamb fabrication and distribution model.

The primary use of the funds will allow the Cooperative to significantly reduce annual debt service requirements over the next several years by extending maturity date and reducing interest rates.

The advantage of this loan is that by reducing debt, and thus freeing up more working capital, the Cooperative will be able to reach out to more producers and potential producers as the opportunities present themselves.

Project #44 -- Sheep Dairy

This loan was established with a family-owned sheep dairy in the Midwest for the purpose of refinancing and enhancing an existing loan. The dairy has been running about 800 head of ewes for the past six to seven years. In order to grow the business and be more efficient, the dairy is trying to alternate the breeding season so they can milk year round.

This dairy has been able to keep back replacement lambs are there are very few dairy sheep in the U.S. and has built its own genetics pool along the way.

The advantage of this facility is that now they are able to build up the genetics and become more selective which in turn makes milking and production more efficient.

Project #45 -- Lamb Processing

This loan was established with a lamb on-farm processing plant. The funds will be used to build the plant which will process meat for weekly fresh lamb stores and restaurants. A commercial kitchen will also be included for value-added lamb products and ready to serve products, which in turn will broaden their customer base.

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Project #46 -- Wool Scouring Plant

This loan wa established with a wool processing plant in Texas, which is this nation’s only remaining facility that scours U.S. produced wool.

The U.S. sheep industry has faced a variety of issues including shrinking sheep numbers, reduced U.S. and global demand for wool, loss of domestic customers and competition from other countries. This plant is needed because it will assist sheep producers with production, profitability and quality.

The funds will give this plant the opportunity to develop wool blends requested by foreign buyers, and implement initiatives identified to maximize efficiency within the plant so it can once again become globally competitive.

Project #47 – Sheep & Goat Marketing Center

This loan was established with a regional livestock market center in Tennessee. It consists of a 25,000 sq.ft. livestock auction facility situated on a 5 acre road frontage tract. The animals are offered to the buyers in graded co-mingled groups, which has proven to provide several dollars in added value to the sellers and provide a more uniform set of animals to the buyers.

The funds will be used to consolidate out of pocket construction expenses into a long term mortgage, which will follow the best management practices for a solid business plan. The strong demand for market goats and lambs out of this center has encouraged producers in the region to grow and expand their productions.

Project #48 – Wool Processing Mill

This loan was established with a wool processing mill located in the southeast section of the U.S. This mill will give small scale producers the opportunity to generate a value added product which will help make their sheep operations profitable, rather than selling into wool pools where they are only able to recoup a fraction of the cost of raising the sheep.

The funds will be used to upgrade the current location, as well as to purchase several needed new machines, such as a picker, pin drafter, spinning frame and a skein winder. An appropriate washing set up, which will entail an industrial water heater, sinks, washing machine and drying racks, will also need to be installed.

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Project #51 -- Sheep Dairy

This loan was established with a family-owned sheep dairy in Wisconsin. The dairy has been in business since 2009 and is now in a position that in order to grow they need additional sheep housing and livestock. The primary use of the funds will be to purchase a 200-acre farm, construct new sheep housing and improve existing buildings.

The advantage of this facility is that it introduces people to the taste of sheep milk cheese and the benefits of sheep milk, which in turn will help the sheep and goat industry grow. Sheep dairying is a growing niche in Wisconsin, opening the eyes to the possibilities sheep have to offer and creating an alternative to “traditional” dairying .

Project #53 -- Organic Sheep Dairy & Creamery

A sheep dairy in California is using funds to enhance the service and products they provide the consumer. This dairy has been in operation since 2009. It is one of the few organic sheep dairy’s in the United States.

The funds will be used to purchase a pasteurizer, additional milk meters, fencing, shelters and feeders. The addition of meters allows them to record the production of all ewes in one day on a monthly basis. It is of great importance to the overall improvement of the dairy sheep genetics in the US that all producers keep accurate production records. This is necessary so the sheep dairy industry can develop a national registry.

By making improvements to the farm’s productivity and management, the increased production of sheep milk and dairy products will meet the growing demand in the marketplace.

 

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