Often profitability is thought to be directly linked to how much can be produced on the land available.
However, this is not always the case – especially when wool prices are at historically low levels, and meat prices are no longer as high as we have seen in the past.
Imagine if you could reduce the input cost on farm by cutting out fertilisers, sprays, drenches etc, and then at the same time increase the value of your products.
To many that probably sounds too good to be true, but in fact that is what a dedicated group of Certified Organic sheep farmers are doing very successfully right here in New Zealand.
Yes, production volumes might be lower when farming organically, but the value of the product will be higher and the cost of the farm inputs are likely to be lower.
There are a growing number of people around the world who are prepared to buy organic meat and wool bedding products at a substantial premium, in order to have assurances that what they eat and where they sleep is free of chemical residues.
Over the past 15 years PGG Wrightson’s International Sales & Marketing company, Bloch & Behrens (B+B) has developed a strong market for crossbred Certified Organic wool. At a time when conventional second shear wool is only selling for around $1.75 c/kg clean, B+B is obtaining a premium for certified organic sheep farmers at $4.50 c/kg, and demand is growing, says Bloch & Behrens General Manager, Palle Petersen who also adds “we expect to see significant premiums in place for the long term”.
There is hope amongst organic sheep farmers, that with the changing of the guard in the USA, that market conditions will improve and will open up some fresh opportunities to sell organic meat at a good premium, so overall existing organic farmers are very optimistic about the future.
Another key aspect of organic farming is to improve the general health of the land by no longer using chemicals and finding other ways to improved soil health. Many organic farmers have also had previous health issues themselves, and by switching to organic farming they have first-hand experience of the improved health benefits for them and their families.
When you become a supplier of Certified Organic wool to PGG Wrightson’s / Bloch & Behrens, you are not just selling bales of greasy good colour second shears, lambswool, bellies and pieces. You are selling your story of how you are producing wool that can be used safely in products for people who might have allergies, or who want to ensure that their children are sleeping in a safe environment totally free of any chemical residues. Other consumers are willing to pay a premium for their Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified products because they are concerned about environmental and sustainability issues, so they want to support products that can guarantee the land is looked after in the best possible way for future generations.
We STRONGLY believe that this consumer trend will continue to grow, so we see a great opportunity for farmers who want to embark on this journey. It does take time and effort to get there, but it can be a rewarding process in many ways.
If you think organic farming might be worth exploring, please do not hesitate to contact us via your local PGW Wool Rep, as we would likely be able to arrange for you to have a chat with one of our existing organic farmers, who will be more than happy to share their experiences with you, and provide some guidance on how to proceed.
You can also contact one of the two certifying bodies in NZ, or check out their websites for more information:
Organic certification from both these organisations is recognised by GOTS, so once your wool is certified by Assure Quality or Biogro to the IFOAM or USDA NOP standard, it can be used in GOTS certified products.