Simpson supports sheep station


Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has joined Oregon Congressman Greg Walden and other western members of Congress in asking the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture to stop the closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois.

“We were disappointed to learn (Agricultural Research Service) has

plans to close the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois and frustrated that ARS did not notify Congress or the sheep industry until the decision had been made,” Simpson said in a news release.

Simpson said the Nov. 3 closure of the station will have a “substantial impact on the western sheep industry.”

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack informed Congress the station would close because it has become a financial liability. He said 17 of 21 full-time staffers would be offered jobs elsewhere. The station’s 21 full-time employees hold about 5 percent of the 423 full-time jobs in Clark County.

In a letter to the Agricultural Research Service, Simpson and Walden said “it would be difficult, if not impossible,” for critical research on the interaction between domestic and bighorn sheep to continue if the center was closed.

“No other station conducts research into the unique challenges that confront sheep producers in Oregon and across the west, like grazing techniques, diseases, or developing new breeds,” Walden said in the release. “That’s why we are working hard with other western representatives to keep this station open so this innovative ag research can continue.”

Agricultural Research Service has still not released any information regarding the details of the closure.

The station, which opened in 1915, has come under fire several times in recent years by environmental groups for overlapping grizzly bear habitat.

The station has been sued several times. The latest suit, filed in a Montana District Court, by a collection of environmental agencies, was filed this week. It seeks for the station to stop grazing operations within grizzly habitat.