ASI Requests Support for Guard Dog Fund

June 27, 2024

Predators come in many forms for America’s sheep flock. While coyotes and wolves stalk lambs under the cover of night, the daylight hours present sheep producers with their own set of challenges – ones that often pit men in suits battling before judges and juries.

Just as producers put faith in livestock guardian dogs to protect their flocks, the American sheep industry has for two decades counted on ASI’s Guard Dog Fund to assist those fighting legal battles on behalf of the entire sheep industry. Such predators to the industry in recent years include an attempt to close one of the industry’s oldest and most important lamb processing plants, challenges to public lands grazing, restrictions on predator control and unregulated lamb imports.

“Dues to ASI are 100 percent spent lobbying in Washington, D.C., so there would be no opportunity to fight for the sheep industry through the court system if we did not have the Guard Dog Fund,” said ASI President Brad Boner. “While we all face challenges as producers, feeders, and lamb and wool processors, we need to come together to support our industry. State sheep producer organizations recognize this opportunity and are the primary requests of ASI Guard Dog Funds. All funding requests are reviewed by the Executive Board or, when possible, the full Board of Directors.” 

ASI generally solicits donations for the Guard Dog Fund in the fall. Checks from producers, state sheep associations and industry advocates arrive at the ASI office through the ASI Annual Convention each January. But there is significant need in 2024. Here are just some of the issues requesting Guard Dog Funds:

  •  A referendum in the city of Denver is threatening the lamb industry with a ban on the slaughter of livestock within the city limits. The Denver lamb facility is the second largest plant in the country and is the target of animal activists sponsoring this November vote. Organizers have admitted a successful ban in Denver could lead to similar efforts in cities throughout the country – which would affect lamb, beef, pork and poultry processors nationwide.
  •  Sheep ranches in Washington, Montana and Colorado can graze sheep on their U.S. Forest Service allotments today largely due to Guard Dog support of litigation to fend off shutdowns due to challenges over wild sheep. A huge share of sheep production could be threatened if the litigation angle is not met head on by the sheep industry. Fund support every year of the Western Resources Legal Center has been a game changer in the wild sheep fight.
  • Guard Dog support is allowing ASI to intervene in the Western Watersheds legal effort to shut down grazing over environmental analysis of grazing permits on Department of Interior lands. The sheep industry is carrying its share alongside cattlemen in the fight only because of the Guard Dog program. 
  •  The Guard Dog Fund is the sole source of funds in the legal intervention to secure delisting of wolves through the Endangered Species Act across most the United States.
  • At the May meeting of the ASI Executive Board, requests were analyzed to tackle the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management Conservation and Landscape Health Rule and prohibition of coyote traps and snares for 11 months of the year in grizzly bear habitat. The board agreed to tap the Guard Dog Fund for both legal actions to the commitment of $47,500. Both legal issues will impact multiple states and an outsized share of lamb and wool production if not successfully challenged. 
  • The Guard Dog Fund also contributed significantly to labor fights in California and Nevada in recent years. Wage hikes in those states have shown a tendency to affect sheepherder wages in other states, as well as through the federal H-2A program. At the request of several state sheep associations, ASI spent more than $110,000 the past four years investigating trade violations by lamb importers. ASI has a law firm monitoring trade conditions for another investigation.  

The Guard Dog Fund has spent $129,178 this fiscal year and the commitment has grown to nearly $200,000. Income from contributors is $75,350, so the goal of this solicitation is clear. 

“We thank the contributing members of the Guard Dog Fund for the opportunity to fight for this industry and we believe the effort is compelling for all of us that receive this membership newsletter to join the program,” said Boner. “We believe it’s an investment that will pay off for the American flock as a whole.”

Source: ASI