Made in Rural America: Value-added Agriculture Takes Oregon Wool from Ranch to Runway and, Now, to the Olympics
I am thrilled to share with you some very good news from Oregon’s high desert. Ralph Lauren, the iconic American brand and U.S. Olympic team sponsor, recently announced they will be using wool produced by one of our Value Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) participants, Imperial Stock Ranch, to make sweaters for Team USA to wear at the 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.
The news would be big for any small rural business. For one working tirelessly to find new ways to profitably preserve Central Oregon’s nearly extinct–yet very American–tradition of raising sheep for fiber, this is especially gratifying.
Imperial Yarn is the value-added business offshoot of Jeanne and Dan Carver’s family owned and operated Imperial Stock Ranch, which produces sheep, cattle, grains, hay and grasses on more than 30,000 acres of stunning Central Oregon rangeland.
Since 2008, Imperial Yarn has participated in the VAPG program for planning and working capital assistance to keep their sustainably and traditionally produced wool a profitable and job-creating venture in an evolving marketplace. With VAPG assistance, USDA Rural Development is proud to have played a small role in helping this rural enterprise take their product from “ranch to runway,” as Jeanne Carver says.
USDA administers the VAPG program to help agricultural producers add value to the agricultural commodities they already produce, generate new products, expand market opportunities, create jobs, and increase rural economic activity.
And that’s exactly what Imperial Stock Ranch and Imperial Yarns have done in a relatively short time. They have added capacity and improved the supply chain for their sustainably produced, boutique products including yarn, fibers, patterns and knitting kits developed in partnership with some very big names in the world of fashion. With a lot of hard work, Imperial Yarn even caught the attention of Ralph Lauren, and now they’re going from ranch to runway and onto the world stage at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia!
Congratulations, Jeanne and Dan for not only preserving a rural way of life, but for showing the world what can be “Made in Rural America.”