The sheep industry in the U.S. is in crisis mode.
So much so, industry leaders demand an investigation into a possible cause for the record low prices this year.
South Dakota sheep producers say this year has been an uphill battle.
And the drought is only part of the problem.
"This year's been a perfect storm, and not in a good way," said Jack Orwick, Sheep Producer from Hoover.
The drought, plus the predators, mixed with the drastic decrease in the price per pound – have all caused producers into crisis mode.
"If we have another year of it, it will really be devastating," said Orwick.
So devastating, it could force producers to shut down altogether.
"We expected a little bit of fluctuation to go down, but they had no idea that it was going to crash like it did. Down to prices that are comparable to 10 years ago," said Max Matthews, President of the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association.
This year's drop was so extreme, 8 U.S. Senators demanded an investigation into market anomalies.
"We've been talking a lot about the lamb crisis and making sure that we give a level playing field to our sheep producers in this state," said Representative Kristi Noem.
Matthews says another way to help stabilize their industry - set a fair market value on domestic lamb, based on the percentage of sales.
"The market's always going to fluctuate but we won't have the fluctuation we have now. We would not have the low lows, and probably not the high highs. but that's all you can hope for," said Matthews.
Not only are they battling low prices, producers say predators are a growing problem.
"You can't shoot enough of them keep them thinned out to where you can survive with them," said Steve Clements, Sheep Producer from Phillip.
blames the problem on changes made within the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks
"Three years ago before this started, the losses in South Dakota were at 165,000 a year. Two years later according to Game Fish and Parks numbers, the losses were up 141%," said Clements.
Mike Kintigh with the Game Fish and Parks Department says those cut backs were made because the Federal Government cut back a significant portion of the funding to the ADC, or Animal Damage Control Program.
But Clements says changes need to be made.
"They have to get these trappers back to trapping 100% of the time," said Clements.
With this perfect storm of problems, producers say something's gotta give.
"If this deal doesn't turn around in the next year, you're going to see a lot of people leave the sheep industry," said Clements.
This meeting was as part of Representative Noem's campaign schedule.
Her challenger Matt Varilek provided this statement:
"South Dakota sheep growers are facing an incredibly difficult year with the drought, shortage of feed, and a dive in prices. They deserve an aggressive advocate for the GIPSA rule and the packer ban, which would give small farmers and ranchers support that's lacking today. We deserve someone who will speak up during the Farm Bill markup on this issue rather than someone who just sends a letter after the fact. We don't have one right now. Congresswoman Noem talks about maintaining a level playing field for our sheep growers, but her votes point in the opposite direction."