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From Hill Country to Capitol Hill at the American Sheep Industry Annual Convention

The 2018 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention brought 500-plus members of the sheep and wool industry to San Antonio, Texas last week, where livestock protection and scrapie status were among the range of issues.

From the Hill Country to Capitol Hill, wool prices were also highlighted. In his presentation to the board, IWTO's Market Intelligence Committee Chair Chris Wilcox of Poimena Analysis spoke of a strong sustained demand for wool, with fine wool prices continuing to break record highs.

The development of a new American Wool logo and accompanying social media sites in the past two years has been a point of emphasis for ASI and the American Wool Council. The focus remains on marketing American wool, said ASI Wool Marketing Director Rita Samuelson.

“We’re targeting the levels of the wool marketing chain that make decisions to purchase American wool,” she told the board of directors. “That has been where ASI has had success in building demand for American wool. We have found that’s where we get a better return for you as a producer. These are the decision-makers who purchase and choose whether to buy American wool or other country-of-origin wools.”

Lamb and wool generate most of the income for American producers, but sheep skins are often overlooked as a revenue source. Convention attendees got an up close look at this side of the industry from Nugget International’s Mike Wheeler, who led half a dozen tours of his processing facility in San Antonio during the week.

Nugget’s goal is to “generate the highest pelt credit possible through a careful mix of merchandising both raw and tanned American lamb skins,” he said. While sheep skin processing has most likely peaked in China, Wheeler sees new opportunities in Southeast Asia, India and Myanmar. 

Read more about IWTO Member ASI and its work on

Image credit: Feeding time in Montana by Kristin Bieber.

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