South Dakota ranks sixth in sheep production nationally. And although consumption for lamb remains high, KOTA Territory sheep producers' bottom lines are being slaughtered.
The South Dakota sheep industry has been sheared. It has half the number of sheep and producers it did in 1990, and those numbers continue to diminish.
R–Calf USA's chief executive officer Bill Bullard says meat packing companies are the main predators; the large international import for lamb is the other.
Livestock producers meet in Belle Fourche Thursday night to express their concerns for the future of the sheep market. Sheep producers say lamb is only bringing in $80, a drastic decrease from the $230 that same weight of lamb brought in two years ago.
"Living in this unknown, if we could have some type of price structure that would guarantee somewhat of a profit from year to year, there could be a lot more growth in this industry,' said Dwight Kitzan, a Nisland sheep producer.
Sheep producers say they remain hopeful congress and the department of agriculture can swiftly corral some help. Representatives from the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) will be in Belle Fourche Friday morning to collect more comments for its investigation.