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DENVER, Colo. - The Sheep Venture Co. (SVC), the American Sheep Industry Association's wholly owned for-profit company, received approval of its loan application by the National Livestock Producers Association's (NLPA) Sheep Loan Fund Committee to purchase manufacturing equipment for the United Sates that will allow wool products to be machine washed and dried without shrinking.
The continuous wool-top chlorine/polymer shrink-resistant treatment equipment line will be able to alter the fiber in wool products, allowing them to be washed and dried without shrinking and will meet "Total Easy Care" standards for consumers. This manufacturing line will be used to fill both military and commercial wool product orders. At this time, more than 2 million pounds of wool is shrink treated overseas in the commercial market.
"Currently, this wool shrink-treatment process is only available overseas, which increases costs, delivery times and eligibility for military wool products. Of concern is that our domestic mills are less competitive without this process and it will prohibit the use of washable wool products by the military, which is American wool's largest domestic customer," says Margaret Soulen Hinson, president of the SVC, explaining that if all processes/products are not entirely of U.S. origin they cannot be used by the Department of Defense (DOD).
The equipment will be housed at Chargeurs Wool USA in Jamestown, S.C., the one remaining topmaking facility in the United States, which will allow various companies to apply the washable treatment to many different U.S. wool products. With the arrival of the equipment this fall and installation and commission through early winter, it is anticipated the equipment will be at full-production capability by the beginning of 2011.
"Domestically processing U.S. wool from sheep to garment will lead to increased demand for U.S. wool products, which in turn will increase domestic demand for our wool," says Hinson, also relaying that the process will help build new business and eliminate the risk of losing current military knitwear business due to the lack of a dependable shrink process in the United States. "We appreciate the NLPA committee assisting with the financial package so that in the coming years, the industry will be able to pay off the loan by simply using the equipment."
ASI is a national trade organization supported by 45 state sheep associations, benefiting the interests of 82,000 sheep producers.