Pendleton Pays Premium for Certified Wool
June 26, 2023
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.
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