The American Wool Assurance Program was introduced as a concept at the ASI Annual Convention a year ago, but the voluntary program really took on life during this year’s Wool Council meeting as AWA Standards were introduced to the full ASI membership for the first time.
In the past year, the program – developed by ASI and Colorado State University – has undergone three major reviews by an industry group that included producers, shearers, sheep specialists and buyers.
CSU’s Dr. Jason Ahola oversaw development of the program and said that discerning consumers are beginning to require assurances that the wool used in outdoor and high-end fashions has been harvested humanely from sheep that are well cared for year round. Some clothing manufacturers are already requiring wool purchases to be certified through similar programs. This certified care movement is starting to be required of all livestock industries, from beef to poultry.
The AWA Program is different from other international sheep care assurance programs in that it is producer driven. And while it focuses heavily on the time period around shearing each year, there are standards for year-round care of the flock as the program is an extension of ASI’s Sheep Safety Quality Assurance Program and Sheep Care Guide....
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