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Deb Robson and Tussah

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February 25, 2012


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Donna Druchunas

Thanks, I am saving this info for future reference. Lots of new ideas to mull over...

Deborah Robson

Nice to see Lithuania on the "all clear" list, isn't it?


I'm in the UK and am often asked to export raw Bowmont to the USA. I investigated this with our govt Animal Health Export team and was told that RAW wool from UK to USA must be accompanied by an official export health certificate. This documentation has been agreed between your authorities and ours. I got a copy. It clearly states that I cannot export wool to the USA unless it has been commercially scoured in a commercial scouring plant. Raw wool is not acceptable. Without an Export Health Certificate my raw wool would not, as far as I undertasnd it, be a legal export to the USA. You rightly point out FMD as a main worry but dont forget weed seeds and insect pests. These can ber just as big a concern and will travel very happily in raw wool - however carefully skirted. I would very much like to export raw wool to the USA but as a responsible farmer I have to abide by the rules as described to me by my own government animal/byproducts health export team. I believe that Tim Booth is no longer rxporting raw fleeces from the WMB for the same reason but havent spoken to him for a few months about it.

Deb Robson

Lesley, thats very interesting. The information that weve linked to is the CURRENT U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations concerning the U.S. side of that discussion. We'd be interested in seeing the documentation that you have a copy of that contradicts what USDA/APHIS on this side told us and have published.

USDA/APHIS is our agency responsible for all agriculturally associated risks, so would be keeping in mind weed seeds and insects as well as diseases. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/

It will be interesting to see if the new (or newly discovered) sheep virus affects matters. http://bit.ly/zeHMtA


To ship untreated wool into the UK/EU it needs a vet certificate relating to the health of the animals, and also needs to be imported to a certified wool handling centre.

Deb Robson

Sarah, is there an online link to those regulations? This topic overall is fascinating.


Deb, The DEFRA website has the regs here:


for import from outside the UK.

I've spent a lot of time talking to defra about this and the main sticking point is that fleece has to go to a "registered handler/processor". I have explained time and time again, that as spinners, we don't want to import processed fleece, and that we don't want to import fleece to send to a processing mill. Both of which are their official regulations for import of fleece.

There are some provisions made for "artistic use" however, and I am currently arguing that fibre crafts come under this bracket.

Deb Robson

Thanks so much, Sarah. As handspinners, we not only do not need (or want) commercially processed fiber, because commercial processing can damage the material, but we are talking about very small quantities.There is also the question of study samples: the minor amounts necessary for research projects like The Fleece Fiber Sourcebook.

The challenge in all this is to find ways to meet the needs of various parties and protect the environments and animals of the countries on the receiving end.

The problem is by no means new; a most interesting article (there are books on the topic as well) is J. Donald Hughes The European Biotic Invazion of Aztec Mexico, in Capitalism Nature Socialism (interesting title for a journal), v. 11, no. 1 (2000), pages 105-112.

Do let us know what you discover and if there is anything we can do to facilitate the process. NONE of us wants to endanger animals. Yet there have to be ways to manage this.

At this moment, all resources are going to be tied up with efforts to deal with, and limit the damage from, the Schmallenberg virus, newly evident and only named in December. http://tgr.ph/xGAMfc - The current theory is that the virus transferred by way of midges that blew across the Channel.

Until that situation has been at least scoped out, our fleece transporting concerns are minuscule.


I'm in Australia, which has very strict quarantine laws because we are relatively isolated from many agricultural diseases and pests.

Although I don't know the specific regulations relating to importing fibre, I would be 99.99% sure that anything that hadn't been thoroughly washed would not be allowed in. Otherwise there would be the risk of VM and other potential disease-carrying organisms hitching a ride.

Deb Robson

Koren, not only isolated from hazards but also with one of the few economies that depend strongly on wool as a commodity.

Astrid Holdstein

This article is very interesting, thank you very much. Do you know, if there are any problems now concerning the new virus in Europe, Schmallenberg?
Kind regards
Astrid Holdstein

Deb Robson

Astrid, thanks for your note and your question. There are not current restrictions in place due to the Schmallenberg virus (which is theorized to be insect-borne), but there could be at any time. The UK is being affected by the virus and the DEFRA (official UK) site for breaking news is here:http://bit.ly/yHVPey .


Fantastic resource. So useful. Thanks for collating all of that.

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