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Utah Wool Marketing Association Maintains
Regional Warehouse With the Help of

the NLPA Sheep & Goat Fund


Story by Ross McSwain

Colorado Springs, CO (May 21, 2008) – Wool growers from six Northwestern states will benefit from the acquisition of new warehouse space made possible by a loan from the National Livestock Producers Association Sheep and Goat Fund.

Utah Wool Marketing Association “Prior to the loan, we were leasing a building in Salt Lake City,” said Will Griggs, manager of Utah Wool Marketing Association. “The owners wanted to increase the rent to a price we simply could not afford. It has allowed the numerous producers, who send wool to us, to maintain a local warehouse facility. Even producers in other states do not have to pay as much freight as they would if sending wool to Belle Fourche, South Dakota, or to Roswell, New Mexico,” Griggs explained. In addition, the association’s old operating loan was set up where directors had to guarantee the loan. This sometimes took months to get all the signatures. The new loan also has helped the association to pay for its supplies in a timely fashion.

“I think the (loan) fund is great and it is being used for its intentions. Above all, it has allowed a local marketing warehouse to stay in the area,” Griggs said.

The new warehouse facility is located in Tooele, Utah, on property that formerly was occupied by a U.S. Army Supply Depot. The building, containing 45,441 square feet, had no offices or rest rooms, and the association had to add a loading dock, overhead doors, and make space for a double dump baler and a scale pit. Modification work on the building started in the winter of 2005 and was completed the following spring.

The new warehouse serves wool producers from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Utah, and Griggs hopes to have some California growers utilizing the facility before too long. He also has growers in Colorado and Arizona.

In interviews conducted by e-mail, Griggs said the association will handle about 4.2 million pounds of wool this year. He tries to be on hand to pick up the various wool pools that the marketing group gathers for grading at the Tooele warehouse. At present, the association charges producers 7 cents per pound handling fee. However, Griggs expects the handling fee will be increased from 2 cents to 3 cents in the near future to cover the rising costs of fuel.

“Fuel costs are a big issue and I do see us increasing our handling fee,” he said.

The association has a professional wool grader on its six-man staff. The grader has 30 years experience. At one time, the grader would travel around to various shearings and grade wool on location. He now serves as a warehouseman, so he is at the facility fulltime.

Griggs said he has traveled over 20,000 miles since January 1, and expects to put another 15,000 miles on his vehicle before the end of the year. Although he does not travel to all shearings, he does meet with wool producers to discuss marketing procedures and answer questions concerning market prospects. He notes that the international market appears to be changing. Europe and India are reported to be more active now than China, a leading buyer this past year. Most of the wool that the association handles go to Lampriere USA, Anodyne or Chargeurs.

Utah Wool Marketing Association also provides growers with various supplies, but Griggs says he does not line up many shearing crews. While many sheep growers in other areas of the country are finding a shortage of shearers, he says his area has not felt a shortage. The average shearing cost in his area is $3.40 per head.

Griggs notes that the sheep industry is presently facing some serious economic pressures.

“It’s no secret that the producers are struggling financially. Most of these producers in Utah must truck their sheep from summer range to winter range and back again. This is becoming a big cost. The only other way to get them there is to trail them, and, at this time with urban growth, that is not practical. Furthermore, these producers travel to their herds about twice a week, consuming yet more fuel. My personal thought is that if fuel prices continue upward, as it appears it will, and lamb prices are as low as some estimates due to increased trucking and fuel cost, more sheep producers will be forced out of business,” Griggs observed. “One potential positive is if the dollar remains cheap, there will be less importing of lamb into the U.S. which might help increase lamb prices.”

Utah Wool Marketing Association is a non-profit cooperative, operated by a 15-member board of directors who are all sheep producers. The newly elected president is Paul Frischknecht of Manti, Utah. The new vice president is Kim Aagard of Moroni, Utah, and Joe Broadbent of Evanston, Wyoming, is secretary-treasurer. Griggs has served as manager since 2000. He started work with the association in 1995 after spending his life on various sheep and cattle ranches in New Mexico.

For more information or an application please contact the National Livestock Producers Association at (800) 237-7193, ext. 10 or visit www.sheepandgoatfund.com.

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The National Livestock Producers Association, founded in 1921, is an organization of livestock marketing cooperatives and credit corporations representing more than 215,000 livestock producers nationwide.


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