Mohair industry overhaul

SA body working with NPO to develop international standard on ethical, sustainable farming practices

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A global outcry over some mohair farmers’ treatment of their goats has forced a shift in the industry, with Mohair South Africa announcing that it has started working with global nonprofit organisation Textile Exchange to develop an international mohair standard.That standard will be used as a guideline for mohair farmers to ensure sustainable business practices.Mohair SA said this week that it had begun working with Textile Exchange a few months ago to integrate its own already existing Sustainable Guideline into the internationally recognised Responsible Wool Standard protocol.The body’s general manager, Lindsay Humphreys, said it was committed to continuously improving the mohair industry throughout the entire value chain, working with sector stakeholders to provide clear evidence of an ethical and responsible industry.“It was our great pleasure to host Textile Exchange and visiting brands in South Africa, and we look forward to a fruitful and mutually beneficial partnership,” she said.Just less than a year earlier, production was halted on mohair farms in the Eastern and Western Cape after a gory video by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) showed disturbing footage of the shearing process on some farms. The four-minute video, released in May 2018, led to a public outcry and a ban on the product by top clothing brands such as H&M, Zara, Gap and Topshop.This led to the collaboration between Mohair SA and Textile Exchange which identifies and shares best practices related to farming, materials, processing, traceability and the product end-of-life to reduce the textile industry’s impact on the environment.The aim of the Responsible Mohair Standard is to give the industry a proactive tool to recognise farmers using sustainable practices by ensuring mohair is produced at farms committed to treating goats and land ethically and responsibly.The draft Responsible Mohair Standard is now being piloted on farms around the country and findings from the audit will be used to inform and adapt the model.The adaptations are expected to be tabled for review at the Textile Exchange 2019 Conference in Vancouver, Canada, in October.Mohair SA hosted delegates from the Textile Exchange in the Eastern Cape in March as well as brand representatives from Filippa K and member brands Acne and John Lewis.The delegates visited farms and met with farmers to experience the management of animal welfare and land health and how the draft standard could be applied.Doreen Chiang, of Swedish clothing company Filippa K, said it was encouraging to see Mohair SA and the farms were working hard towards a responsible mohair standard.“Knowing that all the farms have been audited, and that the next step is a third party accreditation, will bring us closer to a sustainable supply chain.”Karen Perry, partner and sustainability manager of raw materials at John Lewis – a chain of high-end department stores in the UK – said the company worked hard to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare were met.“The passion and commitment at every stage of the supply chain, from the farmers and their families through to the processing plants and spinners, was very clear to see.“We are proud to be involved in the development of the new Responsible Mohair Standard,” Perry said.

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