Shaniko Wool Company and its partners have been raising sheep for 128 years. Over the last several years, the company has emerged as a leader in the wool textile industry, becoming the first RWS-certified company in North America in 2018.
“We felt this was an opportunity to showcase good practices, earn a premium for the wool, and draw apparel brand partners to us for U.S. manufacturing,” founder and owner Jeanne Carver said.
The RWS certification ensures that all sites in the wool production are following ethical and sustainable practices. As an RWS-certified company, they applied for Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant in 2021 to market their textile fiber. With the help of the grant, the company expanded from three ranches to 10 and the increased sales from the marketing activities has allowed them to continue making RWS-certified wool.
“With RWS-certified and fully traceable wool, the ranchers know where their wool ends up. They not only receive a greater value but have the pride and increased purpose of knowing what products their wool is in and can be consumers of their own fiber harvest,” Carver said. “This project supports jobs, small and medium-size businesses, the environment and our domestic economy.”
Carver’s leadership and innovation in the industry have not gone unnoticed. In January 2023, the Shaniko Wool Company was awarded the Industry Innovation Award for improving the American sheep industry.
“We look forward to expanding the use of RWS wool in textile products with existing and new brand partners, strengthening our relationships and partners across the entire supply chain – farmer/ranchers to brands and everyone in between. We will grow stronger together, and so will our communities,” Carver said.
Read more about RD's Value-Added Producer Grant to learn if your rural business could benefit from the program.