Tuesday, October 18, 2016

In Crisis, Patagonia Turns to Oregon Ranch

In 2007, Patagonia Outdoor Gear and Clothing founder Yvon Chouinard stood outside Imperial Stock Ranch near Maupin and told owners Jeanne and Dan Carver, “I've always believed revolution starts at the bottom. I think you guys are the start of a new one.” It took nearly 10 years, but Patagonia eventually joined that revolution. Chouinard had found his way to the Carvers' central Oregon ranch by accident, picking up a magazine article about their operation while in the area fishing the lower Deschutes River. Chouinard swung by for a tour and saw the sustainable ranching practices the Carvers have employed for decades. In the intervening years, Patagonia developed a wool supply chain that included ranchers near its namesake region in Argentina. Imperial overcame some lean years — after the U.S. textile industry migrated overseas — by processing its wool into yarn, eventually supplying the threads Ralph Lauren used in the 2014 Team USA Winter Olympic apparel. Then came the video. In 2015, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals posted a damning clip of farmers from Patagonia’s supply chain abusing sheep, housing them in cramped quarters and skinning an animal alive. The video was a painful setback for Patagonia, a company that proudly – and aggressively – proclaims an allegiance to sustainability. It stopped purchasing wool within a week...more

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