Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

American wool is versatile and in high demand

Bales of wool at the Center of the Nation Wool warehouse in Belle Fourche, SD.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – During this year’s American Sheep Industry Association’s annual convention in New Orleans, there was a lot of excitement about American wool.

The American Sheep Industry Association’s Rita Kourlis-Samuelson explains some of the efforts ASI is doing to build demand for that high-quality U.S. wool clip.

“We do export quite a bit so ASI works with the Foreign Ag Development Service with the USDA in developing those markets and we’ve developed markets all over the world” said Samuelson. “We do export a lot but here in the United States we’re also developing our brand. We have the American wool brand to bring it into the current age and modernize it and let young people and millennials know about wool and its capabilities. And because our breeders are breeding for finer wool, they’re making finer yarns and light weight fabrics, it can be worn year-round. Wool is very versatile and that’s an important message we would like to share with consumers.”

David Fisher is a member of the ASI’s Wool Council from Sonora, Texas and says keeping the U.S. textile industry alive is a big priority to help insure demand for American wool continues.

“Some of the talk that went on was really looking at how we can help infrastructure” said Fisher. “What can we do to help with wool testing? A conversation came up regarding helping the scouring facilities to modernize to the 21st Century like they need to be. Without that we can’t continue to move forward and have the growth and productive industry we want.”

Textile companies also see opportunities as demand continues to grow for American wool. Jacob Long leads American Woolen Company based in Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

“Obviously, as one of the last remaining weavers in America, the big thing for us is to try to take wool fabric and go across other consumer segments” said Long. “Most people think of wool for only the apparel industry for outerwear, and for us there’s a huge opportunity for interiors as well as for accessories. So, for us, I think it’s just looking at which consumer markets are growing and taking our wool fabric and trying to attack those markets.”

Woolgrowers like ASI Wool Council member Randy Tunby from Baker, Montana say the growing demand for American wool is also helping their bottom line back at the ranch.

“We did have record prices this past year and wool is on a pretty strong market trend this year” said Tunby. “Maybe not quite as much as it was last year but it helped fill the gap for people. It also made some people realize that we should pay attention to the wool side of things a little bit more and when you can get those dollars back in your pocket from the wool that you were able to get this year it makes a large difference.”

To learn more about American wool and the ASI’s efforts to grow demand here in the United States and around the world, visit www.americanwool.org.

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