by JAYME BLASCHKE
Gwendolyn Hustvedt, an assistant professor of fashion merchandising in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University, has received a grant in support of her research to determine what premiums consumers are willing to pay for “green” products.
The $140,000 in USDA funding from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program will allow Hustvedt to study locally produced, certified organic, environmentally friendly or “all natural” animal fibers. One goal of her research is to develop marketing plans for Southern animal fiber producers to obtain maximum benefit from additional branding of products made from locally grown, sustainable animal fiber, including wool, mohair and alpaca.
Consumer interest in where their products are made and how they have been made has been increasing substantially in recent years. Unfortunately, most American animal fiber producers are not currently in position to take advantage of this consumer trend. According to one Australian fiber producer group, Leading Sheep, animal fibers are now a specialty, niche product that continues to be marketed like a commodity, to the economic detriment of producers.
This project will identify economic opportunities for sustainable animal fiber producers and operators who have incorporated or are considering incorporating fiber-bearing animals in their land management system in the Southern region. Marketing opportunities for animal fiber will encourage the use of fiber producing, browsing animals such as sheep, goats and camelids (llamas and alpacas) that can contribute to the health of organically or sustainably managed pasture, farming or other land systems. Because of the demographics of small animal producers in the South, the benefits of the two-year project would also reach proportionally more women and minority producers than projects targeting other livestock systems.
For additional information, contact Hustvedt at (512) 245-4689 or via email at email@example.com
— FROM TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY NEWS SERVICE