AWA Website Launched Today
The American Wool Assurance website launched today at AmericanWoolAssurance.org, allowing American sheep producers to take a crucial step in certifying their wool through this voluntary, American industry-driven certification process.
The American Sheep Industry Association worked with Colorado State University the past two years to develop the voluntary program and standards that will allow manufacturers to purchase American wool with confidence that the animals producing that wool have been raised with a high level of care. Industry input from producers, shearers, buyers, extension, animal welfare experts and processors was critical in development of program standards.
“This is something that consumers and brands are asking for increasingly, and so it has become important to retailers, processors and wool buyers in recent years,” said ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson, who oversees wool marketing for the association. “We announced the standards for the voluntary American Wool Assurance program earlier this year and we know that many in the textile trade are anxious to buy wools with the assurance of best animal care practices. Launching the website and the accompanying education courses are important steps in the process. Most importantly, this process allows American wool producers to share their stories of using premium animal welfare practices, as well as their rich wool heritage.”
Sheep producers interested in earning certification should go to AmericanWoolAssurance.org and sign up as soon as possible. After filling out the initial sign-up form – which is for those involved in wool production only – users are then able to access the educational courses that are required to complete Level I (Educated) of the voluntary program. Producers must also complete ASI’s Sheep Safety and Quality Assurance course to complete the first level. Those who have previously completed the SSQA course will not have to complete it again.
The SSQA course – which is in the process of being updated – provides a foundation for care and handling of sheep. The AWA course narrows the focus to sheep handling, shearing and production. It will guide producers through three learning courses: an overview of AWA, year-round standards and shearing standards. The courses are user-friendly and can be accessed on any computer or mobile device with an internet connection. The AWA course should take about an hour for most producers to complete.
Following Level I accreditation, growers can become certified in Level II (Process Verified), which involves an evaluation by a second party such as a veterinarian or extension agent. Level III (Certified) requires an independent audit. To prepare for these next levels, growers are encouraged to develop an operating plan and hold records relating to each of the AWA standards.
Following accreditation, growers can share their unique code with wool buyers, enabling buyers to verify the status of their certification. Additionally, as traceability becomes increasingly important, wool growers can choose if they would simply like to share the status of their certification, or if they would like to share more information, such as ranch name and general location.
“Accreditation in AWA certifies what growers are already doing in prioritizing the proper care of their sheep and provides another marketing tool for them,” Samuelson said. “ASI suggests consulting with your wool warehouse or buyer for more information before making production and marketing decisions, as prices for certified wool will vary based on a number of factors. However, the feedback from wool buyers and processors is that international wools in an assurance program sell with a premium.”
ASI Research Update Podcast: Grazing Management
In the latest edition of the ASI Research Update Podcast, Woody Lane, Ph.D., of Oregon discusses grazing management.
“Working with forages and grazing is a natural outreach or an extension of finding nutrition for sheep,” Lane said.
Click Here to listen to the podcast.
Final Call for Sheep and Goat Producer Input
In January, the South Dakota State University Extension Small Ruminant Team – in collaboration with colleagues throughout the United States – kicked off a survey inviting sheep and goat producers to share their interests and needs to help direct future extension programming. To date, more than 460 responses from 46 states have been collected with many common threads emerging.
“This national survey is helping to collectively identify producer strengths and struggles to cooperatively strengthen extension program efforts in South Dakota and across the United States,” said Jaelyn Quintana, SDSU Extension sheep field specialist.
“By participating in the survey, producers can share preferences on production and management topics of importance, as well as program delivery methods,” said Kelly Froehlich, assistant professor and SDSU Extension specialist in small ruminant production. “It will also help extension professionals gain insight to current production challenges and farm and ranch demographics.”
Responses to the survey need to be recorded by July 31. The survey is voluntary, confidential and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. The Sheep and Goat Producer Needs Assessment can be found online at https://sheepandgoatneeds.questionpro.com. Alternatively, surveys can be sent by mail or email upon request.
For more information or questions, please contact Froehlich at Kelly.Froehlich@sdstate.edu or 605-688-5765; Quintana at Jaelyn.Quintana@sdstate.edu or 605-394-1722; or Heidi Carroll, SDSU Extension livestock stewardship field specialist and beef quality assurance coordinator, at Heidi.Caroll@sdstate.edu or 605-688-6623.
Source: SDSU Extension
State Funding Approved for Montana Wool Research Lab
Montana House Bill 14 was signed into law in early May by Gov. Greg Gianforte. This signing was a huge win for Montana’s sheep producers, securing $5 million in funding to build a new wool lab on Montana State University’s Bozeman campus. The remaining $1 million for the project will be collected through fundraising efforts.
The current Montana Wool Lab building sits on the north end of Bozeman’s campus on South 11th Ave. The Montana Legislature approved funding to build the structure in 1945, with the completion of the current building in 1947. The Montana Wool Lab is a research-oriented lab, serving sheep and wool producers. Research and testing provided allows sheep producers to enhance the genetics of their flocks by improving wool traits. It is an integral part of sheep and wool research on campus, extension outreach and teaching.
This bill will allow for the lab to upgrade facilities and equipment, to provide more services and allow space for collaboration on research.
Source: Montana Wool Growers Association
Finer Wools Push Australian Market Higher
The Australian wool market recorded an overall increase this series, mainly on the back of solid increases in the fine Merino fleece sector.
Although this week’s offering was smaller – the national offering fell by 7,914 bales to 41,857 bales – wool on hold has continued to bolster the amount of wool on offer this season. This extra wool has resulted in 173,618 more bales put through the auction system this year compared to the corresponding sale of the previous season – an increase of 12.7 percent.
Finer fleece types attracted strong buyer support, pushing prices higher across the country. This was reflected in the individual Micron Price Guides for 19.0 micron and finer, which added between 24 and 54 cents. The AWEX Eastern Market Indicator gained 9 cents for the series, closing the week at 1,315 Australian cents. Losses in some coarser Merino types and in the crossbred and oddment sectors prevented the EMI from posting a larger gain.
As the finer microns continue to increase at larger rates than the medium to broad microns, so too does the price differentials between microns. This is again best highlighted by looking at the difference between the Southern MPGs of 17.0 and 21.0 micron. This difference has now grown to 1,062 cents. To put this large gap into perspective, when compared to the same sale of the previous season (Week 47) this difference was only 317 cents. During the past 12 months, the MPG for 17.0 micron has added 745 more cents than the 21.0 MPG.
The crossbreds struggled again this week, recording overall losses for the third consecutive series. The MPGs for 26.0 to 32.0 micron dropped by between 1 and 18 cents. Next week’s national offering increases. There are currently 47,028 bales on offer in Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle, with Melbourne requiring three selling days to accommodate the larger quantity.
Coalition Defends Gray Wolf Delisting
This week, a coalition of agriculture and forestry groups – including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Forest Resources Council, the American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council – filed motions in court in defense of delisting the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act.
Three cases filed by environmental and animal welfare groups in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenge the final delisting rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Nov. 3, 2020. The coalition is defending the delisting because it recognizes the successful recovery of the wolf, and enables responsible wildlife management and protection of private property by farmers, ranchers and forest resource users.
The coalition provided the court with personal stories that illustrate the harm inflicted by unchecked wolf populations on livestock ranchers and farmers, natural ecosystems and other wildlife. Since being listed under the ESA in 1974, the gray wolf has exceeded recovery goals by more than 300 percent. This has become a story of runaway success, with uncontrolled populations now threatening livestock and rural communities across the country. The delisting of the gray wolf properly returns protection of the species to state and local management agencies.
“Predation is one of the largest challenges that sheep producers face, and proper management of predators is critical to avoiding these needless and gruesome losses,” said ASI Senior Policy Director Chase Adams. “Wolf populations have clearly recovered to a level where ESA protections are no longer warranted. The states can and should manage this species for the benefit of both the wolves and the sheep.”
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