Pendleton Pays Premium for Certified Wool
When the American Sheep Industry Association developed the American Wool Assurance program several years ago, one of the potential benefits for producers included receiving a premium price for their wool clips. That day has arrived for some American wool producers, as Pendleton Woolen Mills paid a premium for certified wool in 2023.
“What we’re doing is asking wool growers to go through this process,” said Pendleton’s Dan Gutzman. “The premium we paid was designed to help offset the costs of becoming certified. I think all of our producers reached Level 1 certification through AWA, and more than half went a step further and reached Level 2. We realize it has been a tough year in the sheep industry and the added time and costs didn’t make sense for every producer. But we hope they are starting to see the value and the importance of working with the available certification programs.”
AWA and the Responsible Wool Standard are the two main programs available to American producers at this point. And they came along in recent years as clothing labels were placing an emphasis on documenting animal care in the production of wool products.
Gutzman said producers should think of the certification process as being nearly as important as the preparation of the wool clip, especially when it comes to marketing that product.
“A statement I’ve made most of my life is that the wools that are well prepared and genetics controlled are usually the premium paid lots in a lot of these auctions,” he said. “And at the same level I’m talking about classing, skirting and packaging, I would say about documenting your process and trying to adhere some label to it – whether its AWA, RWS or the next one coming down the road. It’s going to be important to market your wool. The premium you’re hoping to get is going to come with labeling. It’s going to be important to go through that process.”
AWA Level 1 certification requires completion of two short online courses and is free to producers. Level 2 certification includes a second-party evaluation with an AWA-trained evaluator while Level 3 requires a third-party audit. AWA was developed by ASI in coordination with producers, the American wool industry and Colorado State University.
ASI Wool Production Programs Manager Heather Pearce oversees administration of the program and is available at email@example.com or 303-371-3500, ext. 102, to answer any questions.
Read the full story in the July issue of the Sheep Industry News.
Click Here to learn more about AWA.
PLC Launches Campaign Against BLM Rule
Earlier this week, the Public Lands Council – of which the American Sheep Industry Association is a member – launched a grassroots campaign regarding the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rule Conservation and Landscape Health. The proposed rule would create significant, concerning changes to the BLM’s authority to manage the nation’s public lands and would open the door to removing livestock grazing from the range.
“The BLM must follow the law in managing our nation’s public lands for multiple use and sustained benefits for all,” said PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “Public lands grazing is an important conservation tool that protects these landscapes and is integral to national food security. We must remind the BLM that grazing is an essential use of our nation’s public lands and I hope you will join us in sending a letter to the agency leadership underscoring their responsibility to be good partners – especially since they’ve fallen short in this rule.”
Click Here for the full letter. While the form requires an address in addition to a name and contact information, only the signers’ name, city and state will be added to the proposed rule public comment docket. Questions regarding the letter may be directed to Hunter Ihrman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The letter will close when the agency stops accepting public comment on the rule, which is currently scheduled for July 5.
Industry Showcases Commitment to Sustainability
The legacy and ongoing commitment of American sheep producers to preserve and protect natural resources was passionately communicated to consumer media during a virtual event on June 14, which was spearheaded by the American Lamb Board.
Thirty-six media outlets participated, such as Better Homes & Gardens, Rachel Ray magazine, Food Network magazine, Denver Post and others. Both lamb and wool grown in the United States were discussed to represent the entire industry.
Media received a premiere showing of ALB’s Stewards of the Land, a checkoff funded mini-movie that showcases the benefits of sheep grazing. The movie shares stories of how sheep are integral for regenerative agriculture on rangeland, vineyards and solar farms, as well as nature’s best fire preventors.
The virtual event – held via a Zoom webinar – allowed for closer engagement with consumer media efficiently.
“We were very pleased with the number and quality of media interested in what the American sheep industry had to share about sustainability,” said ALB Chairman Peter Camino.
The following panelists provided media with additional perspectives and answered numerous questions about grazing, animal care and production:
- Brittany Cole Bush (fire prevention).
- Alan McAnelly (regenerative agriculture).
- Jared Lloyd (vineyard grazing).
- Judy St. Leger (solar grazing).
- Kaos Sheep Outfit’s Robert and Jamie Irwin (custom contract grazing).
- Sun Raised Foods’ Tonje Woxman (solar grazing, lamb sausages and other products).
- Sonoma Wool Company’s Joe Pozzi (wool bedding and specialty products, and lamb).
- Grgich Hills Estate Winery’s Ivo Jeramaz (vineyard who uses contract sheep grazers).
To further explain the industry’s sustainability contribution and commitment, media were introduced to the American sheep industry’s Commitment to Sustainability Report. This new document for influencers and consumers was produced by ALB and the American Sheep Industry Association through a committee of industry stakeholders and experts. It shares the industry’s commitment to sustainability, then goes on to detail goals and strategies to make further contributions and progress.
To make the connection between sheep and sustainable products even more real, participating media received a special Stewards of the Land sample box from ALB. The boxes contained products possible because of the American sheep industry, including
- Grgich Hills Estate zinfandel, a winery in Napa Valley that uses sheep to graze their vineyards.
- Sonoma Wool Company set of wool coasters.
- Sun Raised Foods Finocchiona lamb salami.
- Carr Valley Cheese Marisa wedge, made from sheep’s milk.
Camino said ALB will be making more announcements about its sustainability initiatives in the next few months.
“This is an important issue. We all want to live in a sustainable world with communities able to thrive. Every sector will need to justify its contributions to a healthy planet, including the American lamb industry,” he said.
Australian Market Continues to Slide
The Australian wool market is limping toward the end of the 2022-23 season, recording another overall loss and the seventh straight week without an increase. Fremantle did not hold a sale again this series, pushing the national quantity down to just 28,484 bales. This was the smallest sale since September 2022.
In a similar pattern to the previous series, buyer sentiment was weak from the outset, which translated into price reductions across all Merino fleece types. On the first day, the market opened lower and then progressively deteriorated. By the end of the day, the Individual Micron Price Guides for Merino fleece had dropped by between 4 and 86 cents. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator fell by 25 cents as only a generally unchanged crossbred market and limited movements in the skirtings and oddments prevented a larger fall.
The losses continued into the second day, but at a more subdued rate than on the first. Some micron pockets recorded no change or small increases. The movements in the Merino fleece MPGs ranged between plus 10 and minus 55 cents for the day.
The skirtings tracked a similar path to the fleece, while the oddments and crossbreds recorded little change. The net result was a 10-cent drop. The EMI finished the week 35 cents lower. The losses to the EMI this series pushed it down to 1,139 Australian cents. The EMI is now at its lowest point since the beginning of December 2020, when it was at 1,133 cents. Currency played virtually no part in this week’s falls. The EMI lost 3 percent when viewed in both Australian and U.S. currencies.
Fremantle returns next week for the final sale of the 2022-23 season, pushing the quantity higher. Currently, there are expected to be 49,496 bales on offer, which would be the largest offering since April.
Click Here for the Full Australian Wool Market Report.
Team USA Competes at Golden Shears
Shearers from around the globe are competing at the Golden Shears World Championships this week in Scotland, including a team of shearers and wool handlers from the United States.
Click Here to follow updates – including live video – from the American Sheep Shearers Council.
Click Here for information on the competition.
Make Plans to Attend Trailing of the Sheep Festival
Sheep have been trailing through the Wood River Valley of Idaho for more than a century-and-a-half and are an integral part of Idaho’s Western heritage. The iconic Trailing of the Sheep Festival on Oct. 4–8 celebrates the sheep, herders, history and food of this unique cultural tradition, and is recognized as one of the Top 10 Fall Festivals in the World by MSN.com.
Each fall, the festival honors the annual tradition of moving sheep from high mountain summer pastures down through the valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas in the south. This annual migration is living history and the focus of a unique and authentic festival that celebrates the people, arts, cultures and traditions of Idaho’s sheep ranching families, highlighting the principal contributors – the Basques, Scottish and Peruvians.
The five-day festival includes nonstop activities in multiple venues – history, folk arts, an authentic Sheep Folklife Fair, lamb culinary offerings, a Wool Fest with classes and workshops, music, storytelling, National Qualifying Sheepdog Trials and, the always entertaining Big Sheep Parade with 1,500 sheep hoofing it down Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho.
Click Here for a detailed schedule, tickets and lodging deals.
Source: Trailing of the Sheep
Bollman Acquires Littlewood & Sons Equipment
The Bollman Hat Company – America’s oldest hat maker – acquired dyeing and drying equipment from G.J. Littlewood & Sons after Littlewood discontinued its operations following a flood in September of 2021. Bollman has begun to fiber dye for its hat making operations and others in the textile world.
Littlewood was founded in 1869 on Main Street in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia and Bollman in 1868 on Main Street in Adamstown, Penn., about 56 miles west. Bollman has always piece dyed its wool felt hats in house, but contracted with Littlewood for decades to fiber dye some of its wool to create heathered colored hats. When Littlewood was forced to cease operations after a devastating flood, Bollman sought to buy some of the equipment to bring to Adamstown. Bollman is now using that equipment to dye clean wool for its mixes and swirl hat styles and provide contract wool dyeing for other companies. When using fiber dyed wool, Bollman cards and then felts wool with more than one color versus piece dyeing into a solid color after carding and felting.
Bollman’s expertise in wool processing includes its scouring plant in San Angelo, Texas – which washes wool and also provides warehousing operations for the wool industry – and its historic wool felt hat making operation which has been making hats on Main Street in Adamstown for 155 years. Bollman is 100-percent employee owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan and was recently named the 19th oldest continuously operating consumer products company in the United States.
“Bringing these historic operations together helps to preserve an important piece of the textile and wool industry and, along with it, American jobs” Bollman President and CEO Don Rongione noted. “Our employee-owners are learning how to produce the outstanding color that was part of Littlewood for over 150 years.”
Bob Littlewood – former President of Littlewood – said, “It was a devastating day for Littlewood on September 2, 2021. Realizing that our family business of 152 years and five generations is now over. It meant a lot to us when Don from Bollman Hat reached out and expressed interest in bringing these two historic operations together. Having our machinery and our processes being used at Bollman makes Littlewood feel as if they still have a role in the industry.”
Source: Bollman Hats
Legislative Update from Washington, D.C.
The American Sheep Industry Association’s lobbying firm – Cornerstone Government Affairs – offered an update this week on legislative issues in our nation’s capital.
House and Senate Favorably Report Spending Bills
On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations marked up the Fiscal Year 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Bill. It is interesting to note that the Senate Appropriations Committee has not held a full committee markup in more than two years.
This markup was rather short in comparison to the eight-hour House Appropriations markup and featured more of a bipartisan collaboration. The committee ordered the bill to be reported favorably to the Senate floor with a unanimous 28-0 vote. Both bills will now move to their respective chamber floors.
The House and Senate Appropriation FY24 Agriculture-FDA reports both included language that supports and maintains funds for American Sheep Industry Association-related priorities such as provisions for livestock protection, the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, Scrapie Eradication Program, Wildlife Services and associated education and training programs.
Senate HELP Favorably Reports ADUFA/AGDUFA
On June 15, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a markup including the Animal Drug User Fee Amendments and the Animal Generic Drug User Fees Amendments of 2023.
The Innovative Feed Amendment offered by Sens. Roger Marshall (Kan.) and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) was adopted. Both the bill and amendment received bipartisan support from senators, who agreed the provisions would help keep animals healthy and work for producers. The committee unanimously voted to report the bill favorably to the Senate floor. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce favorably reported its bill to reauthorize ADUFA and AGDUFA to the House floor last month. The American Sheep Industry Association’s current position is to support a clean ADUFA bill and monitor the progression of the legislation.
House Agriculture Holds Hearing on Farm Bill Research Title
On June 14, the House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Research and Biotechnology held a hearing titled A Review of VII: University Perspectives on Research and Extension Programs.
Republicans and Democrats agreed investing in agricultural research and all types of land grant institutions is necessary to the future success and innovations of the agricultural industry. Members and witnesses alike raised serious concern over competing nations out investing the United States in agricultural research. Witnesses also stressed the need for greater investment in facilities upkeep to enable the American agricultural industry to maximize the country’s ability to innovate and the importance of public private partnerships.
Other key themes discussed included youth agricultural development programs, workforce needs, competitive and capacity funds, soil health, agricultural technology and innovation, and food security.
USDA Announces New Animal Product Labeling Effort
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on June 14 efforts to substantiate animal raising claims on food labels. Voluntary label claims like “free-range” and “grass-fed” are approved by the Food Safety Inspection Service through documentation.
FSIS plans to increase documentation requirements in a revised guideline. Additionally, FSIS and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service will engage in an effort to test for antibiotic residues in meat with the “raised without antibiotics” label. USDA says the label verification will keep consumers informed and benefit producers accurately using the claims.