The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) is proud to have been one of the first U.S. livestock groups to develop animal care guidelines decades ago, including having the foresight to create and release the first version of the Sheep Care Guide in 1996.
Building on this legacy and that of other key sheep production guidelines, the American Wool Assurance (AWA) program focuses on year-round animal care related to sheep production with an emphasis on animal welfare connected to wool production.
“The AWA provides the framework for allowing interested producers to be part of this voluntary program,” said ASI Wool Council member Randy Tunby from Baker, Mont. “If they go through everything, it shows they're raising their animals to the standards that have been set.”
He says the program just highlights what producers are already doing.
“The majority of the producers already do these things without even thinking about it,” said Tunby. “The program requires documentation and plus a second and third-party evaluation to help you become certified. It also requires a third-party independent auditor to verify and say, yes, this person does follow the program guidelines and this wool product is what they say it is.”
He says to get more woolgrowers involved with the AWA program; the ASI has developed ranch groups.
“There's benefits and marketability because you will have more pounds of similar wool to sell,” said Tunby. “If you are all under the AWA Ranch Group, this would allow you to sell that wool and reach other markets and other buyers.”
The American Wool Assurance program is voluntary, he says, but gives producers more marketing options for their wool clip.
“If this program fits your bill and it's going to allow you to sell wool into another market for a higher price, that's what you've got to look at,” said Tunby.
The AWA Guide is available to help you understand more about the program, its standards and what is needed for a second-party evaluation or third-party audit. For more information, visit www.americanwoolassurance.org.