Wool production has been on a significant decline since the late 1980’s, but demand for American wool is starting to push growth in the industry. Although not one of the most high-profile commodities in the state, California is just behind Texas as the second largest producer in the country. The growing demand for American wool is showing itself in the form of better profit margins for producers.
“We did have the record prices this past year and wool is on a pretty strong market trend this year too. Maybe not quite as much as it was last year but that helped fill the gap for people,” said Wool Council member for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Randy Tunby. “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.”
The increased demand both domestically and in the international market has been assisted by increased efforts on behalf of industry groups. “ASI works with the Foreign Ag Development Service with USDA in developing those markets and we’ve developed markets all over the world. Here in the United States we’re also developing our brand we have,” said Director of Wool Marketing for ASI Rita Kourlis-Samuelson. “Our breeders are breeding finer wool and making finer yarns and making lightweight fabrics…and that’s an important message that we’d like to share with consumers.”