May 3, 2016

Traceable and Responsible

Dear Friends,

Sometimes new work just shows up in your life, without warning.  And it brings new relationships, which turn out to be the best part.   I got a phone call last August, which has led us down a new path.  It’s actually an affirmation of a path we were already on, but with more precision, power and meaning.


I’ve written much about changing culture, and the impacts of those changes on our life here at the Imperial Stock Ranch and in agriculture in general.  We know people want to know “where it comes from,” but more and more, they want a comfort level with how you are treating the land and animals.  This is true for both commodity and value added (direct) agriculture.   Our move from commodity to a direct sale model years ago, required a whole new set of skills.  We are well practiced at this point, in sharing our life with visitors and helping others understand how we do things in ranching.  Mostly, farmers and ranchers have been able to simply explain how things are done.  But in the future, will that be enough?  Brands are at risk, and retail partners and consumers want assurance that what we say we do, we do.  How can they know?

Since that phone call in August, Imperial Stock Ranch has participated in a process and the pilot audits for a new global 3rd party certification program under the Textile Exchange, called the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS).  We are the first ranch in America to go through the process.  The standard is close to being final, and will soon launch on the world stage this summer in Europe, and then in August in North America.  We plan to be part of the celebration.  The Textile Exchange is a “…global nonprofit that focuses on minimizing the harmful impacts of the textile industry and maximizing its positive effects.”  They partner with a variety of organizations, even ranches like us, who want to advance their sustainability efforts.  We are pleased and honored to have been part of the early efforts to certify responsible practices in wool production.

This is an exciting development for brands, stores, or individual customers who become part of our Imperial Stock Ranch family.  It assures our partners that we are truly taking care of the land, and caring for the animals to the highest standards.  Certification is not new to the Imperial Stock Ranch, as we are already part of similar programs.  But this one may be the most comprehensive standard yet.  It requires a little more record keeping, and the willingness to open our books, records and operation to inspections, but it is one of the best tools I know, to share a true and positive story of agriculture.  For the past 3 months, we have hosted an audit team and observers from around the world.  They have looked at every aspect of our operation, spending equal time on land management practices and animal husbandry.  I think perhaps the greatest thing that has come from this experience, is that the process itself has lifted the pride of our entire ranch team and family.  Imperial Stock Ranch is leading the way in America and globally, with this new RWS standard, and putting our brand/retail partners in a good position for the future.

Thanks to each of you, for being part of our Imperial Stock Ranch family.  This is most likely the final Imperial Stock Ranch news for the Imperial Yarn newsletter.  With the new ownership structure, the business is evolving in new directions with exciting offerings on the horizon.  We appreciate your continued support of Imperial Yarn.   If you are interested in more news from the ranch itself, contact me direct or check out the news posts I will be making on the ranch website:

Warm Regards,