Running a sheep farm organically means that it has the least impact on the environment because products used on farm are controled so that they don’t harm the sheep or the soil. This results into a fibre that contains the least possible amount of or no chemical traces in the fibre.
Organic Wool Farms
Momentarily, Fuhrmann manages some 130,000 sheep across 12 different farms. Fuhrmann is growing rapidly on farm management and expects to reach 300.000 sheep in two seasons. All of our farms are organic or in the process of becoming organic. What does ‘in the process of becoming organic’ mean? It takes a total of 3 (2 with the accelerated process) years for a farm to change from a conventional wool farm to an organic wool farm. This means the farms are already complying with the organic standards but to be fully accepted as organic the standard requires a time frame of 3 years. You can compare it to when you detox your body, it just needs time until your system has completed the detoxing process. It is within Fuhrmann´s core philosophy that all farms run by us are given organic status.
What organic wool standards are followed to grow and process organic wool?
When talking about organic wool and organic wool standards, you need to distinguish between two things, growing organic wool and processing organic wool.
In general terms, growing organic means that the farm which produces the wool is audited as an Organic Farm in compliance with a number of organic wool standards which may vary from one country to another. This auditing of the farm will entitle the production from that particular farm to be certified Organic. In the case of Fuhrmann, we follow the Argentine National Health Authority´s (SENASA for its Spanish acronym – http://www.senasa.gob.ar/) standards for primary wool production on farms.
For the processing plant, Fuhrmann adopted the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS for short – http://www.global-standard.org/) which is the world’s most accepted organic wool standard known today for wool tops processing in particular as well as organic textile production in general. Both standards are audited in Fuhrmann’s case by the same private independent certifying agent which is OIA (see http://www.oia.com.ar/).
Growing organic wool in Argentina
The SENASA protocol for primary production is fully recognised by the EU as equivalent to its Organic standards since 1994. The actual SENASA protocol 374-2016 is 178 pages long, dated 14 July 2016 and unfortunately is only available in Spanish. The link is: http://www.senasa.gob.ar/normativas/resolucion-374-2016-senasa-servicio-nacional-de-sanidad-y-calidad-agroalimentaria
It is worth mentioning that Argentina is regarded as a leading country in Organic standards for primary production worldwide. This is due to that Argentina being an exporting country of many agricultural goods has always embraced and actively developed the organic concept from its very beginning.
Please find below the official OIA Organic wool production criteria that need to be met by organic wool farms in Argentina:
- Transition period – two to three years are required from the moment a farm starts applying the protocol until it is allowed to sell their produce with Organic label to ensure all traces of non-organic material are natural.
- Sustainable land management – a periodical study of the grasslands needs to be carried out to ensure that the farms are not being overgrazed. It is from this study that the optimal and sustainable animal number is established and needs to be respected by the farm in subsequent years.
- Breeding – the suggested breeding method is mounting, although artificial insemination is allowed with limitations and requires notifying the auditor. Other breeding methods are not allowed. Hormonal treatments aren’t allowed either.
- Supplementary feeding – if supplementary feeding is needed, it will be monitored and needs to be in compliance with a list of allowed feeds.
- Registering – everything needs to be properly documented so that all the information about the farm management is available on site at any time in case of an unannounced audit takes place.
- Animal management – general guidelines of animal welfare based on the five freedoms are made although this aspect is not audited.
- Animal health – animal management needs to be done in a way that it prevents illness by ensuring general animal welfare. All allowed veterinarian products are clearly listed.
- Transportation – general criteria for transporting livestock is given.