Q: When I submit fiber how long will it be before I can expect product to be made and sent back to my farm?
A: The short answer is 12-18 months (This assumes that everything ships and operates on a timely basis as the commercial processing level). The long answer is a bit more complicated and requires a general understanding and acceptance of “how” the commercial process functions. The process of creating a product has many steps and is time intensive. In order for ANY product to be made from our grade-specific fiber, there FIRST needs to be a quantity large enough to process at the commercial level, generally 1000 lbs. Once that initial piece has been identified, some or all of the following steps get put into play:
- Run Cost Estimator is created (1-2 weeks)
- Fiber is picked and shipped to first stage processing (2-3 weeks)
- Fiber placed in queue for scouring, and dehairing (if necessary)
- Scoured and dehaired fiber is shipped to spinning mill (1-2 weeks)
- Pick, card, spin, ply, and cone fiber to yarn (1-3 months, depending on where we are in the queue and how long it takes to spin and approve samples).
- Ship coned yarn to (dyehouse 1-2 weeks)
- Dyehouse lab does test samples and mails them for approval. Once approved the dyeing commences (1-2 months, or more, depending in our place in the queue)
- Next step is labeling and putting up a portion of the yarn into hanks. The balance of the yarn will go to another mill for processing into finished goods. (Added value finished products, i.e. hats, mittens, gloves is a whole other animal with its own time contraints)
Q: How long will it take for product from my fiber to be placed in the wholesale pool for sale?
A: Short answer: 12-18 months, as per above.
More informative answer:
Once product is started, each member involved in the run receives a Product Selection Guide. This is where each member chooses quantities to be sent to farm, and remaining quantities to be placed into the wholesale pool. This is a VERY IMPORTANT piece of information to communicate to the office. Once the product is completed it is sent to the distribution center. When all invoices are paid, then the distribution manager either ships product to the member or places it into the wholesale pool.
Q: Will I have a choice of the quantity of product returned to my farm?
A: Members have ALWAYS had a choice of the quantity of product returned to their farm. NFP is working diligently with the manufacturers to offer a wider variety of product for each grade of fiber from which you can choose desired product for your farm. By submitting the Product Selection Guide, you are communicating your desired quantities and colors.
Q: When product from my fiber sells in the wholesale pool, when can I expect payment?
A:Short answer: FIRST IN – FIRST OUT
More informative answer: The timeliness for receiving payment for your product in the wholesale pool partially depends on how you have handled the payment of your processing invoices. The FIRST members who pay their processing invoices are the FIRST members who will receive payment for the sale of product from the wholesale pool. Likewise, if payment for processing invoices is delayed, then payment for product sold from the wholesale pool will be VERY SLOW in coming. Those payments will be made as the product continues to sell out. If processing invoices, including shipping costs, are not fully paid within 90 days of the arrival of the product at the distribution center, the member’s product will be confiscated and owned by NFP.
Q: What updates on the status of my submitted fiber can I expect to receive?
A: According to the Bylaws, the cooperative is obligated to provide an Annual Product and Fiber Report to each member. Additionally, updates on Production Runs are published every two weeks in the Newsletter.
Overall, however, it is the member’s responsibility to “track” their fiber from submission to end product, keeping their own records regarding the status of their submitted fiber. NFP provides a Fiber Tracking Form for that purpose. The Fiber Tracking Form is located on the website, and is also available by contacting the office. It is recommended that members use the Fiber Tracking Form in conjunction with their processing invoices to follow the progress of each production run. Finally, updates on the arrival of finished product at the distribution center will be included in the Newsletter.
Q: How many invoices will I receive during the time fiber has been submitted and product is made and sent to me?
A: Generally you will receive 2-3. The first is the estimate for the cost of the production, the second is for any actual costs of production not covered by the first invoice, and the third covers shipping to your ranch/farm.
Q: What happens if I don’t pay my invoices on time?
A: Payment is due within 30 days. Payment is accepted through electronic transfer by your bank, personal check, the intuit Payment Network link, PayPal, or credit card. Overdue balances will incur a monthly finance of charge of 1.5% . Payment not received within 90 days will be sent to collections, unless other arrangements have been made.
Q: What can I expect to earn per pound of raw fiber submitted?
A: We strive to reach an average wholesale profit/lb. of $25 across all grades and products. Our 2011 yarns averaged $19.47 wholesale profit/lb, whereas our 2013 yarn came in at $28.05. Finished goods (such as duvets, hats, gloves, etc.) generally offer higher margins than cone or skein yarn.
Q: Is sorting and grading fiber mandatory for submission of fiber to NFP?
Our co-op model is based on producing a product that is long lasting and comfortable to wear. The best yarns and resulting fabrics are made with fibers which are uniform in length and fineness, with a minimum of stronger primary fibers. Using the Certified Sorted® System significantly improves the quality of the final product.
Q: What are the major differences between NFP, AFCNA and NEAFP?
A: NFP provides members a conduit to submit their fiber (even in relatively small amounts) into a variety of commercial production pipelines. The finished product is either returned to them or sold on their behalf, with 100% of the wholesale or distributor price being returned to the farm/ranch. NFP members own their fiber through the pipeline and pay the actual production costs as well as their share of “overhead” through the annual assessment of Retains.
NEAFP is a privately-owned and operated business. Any profits are returned to NEAFP’s owners. Fiber producers may or may not submit fiber to their “bank” and pay wholesale costs for finished products, with a slight reduction if they submitted fiber used in the runs.
AFCNA accepts skirted fiber which is graded by their team of sorter-employees. Fiber which AFCNA cannot use or sell (termed NCV or “no commercial value”) means their members have spent money by a.) shipping fiber that may not be used, or b.) no longer have the option of putting it to another profitable use, such as core spun rug yarn or garden fabric. AFCNA’s yarn and socks are produced and sold at wholesale (rather than cost) and retail.
Additional products are purchased, mostly from Peru, for resale. Once all expenses of running AFCNA are offset by income, profits, if any, are paid to members based on the amount and grade submitted. Historically the dividend has ranged from $1.00- $6.00/lb. (This is our understanding, based on the experience of those who are members of both NFP and AFCNA. We recommend you determine the differences among NFP, NEAFP, and AFCNA and come to your own conclusion.)
Q: Can I send fiber for NFP to sort and grade for me?
It is to your advantage to have your fiber sorted before it is submitted to NFP, as you have more options for what is done with it, and may maximize the volume of fiber put into production. However, Certified Sorted® Systems notifies NFP where and when they are hosting “Regional Sorts” for blanket and neck fiber. You pay Certified Sorters and their apprentices as independent contractors rather than having NFP incur the higher expense of wages, taxes, and benefits for employees. Regional Sorts occur 3-4 times throughout the year, and in a variety of locations across the U.S.
Q: Do ALL natural fibers submitted by members go through a sorting and grading system before yarn or product is made?
A: YES, if they are members submitting fiber to NFP, their fiber must be Certified Sorted®. In general, most natural fibers such as llama, buffalo, cashmere, yak, angora and mohair require dehairing prior to processing.
Q: What are “retains” and how often do I pay for retains?
A: Our cooperative model assesses a separate annual fee, called “Retains”, for operating expenses. Retains are based on the amount of fiber each farm/ranch submitted the previous fiscal year. It is anticipated that the income generated by the dehairing machine will begin to pay the operating expenses of the cooperative. During this transition, the Board will continue to assess retains as needed.
Q: Is Certified Sorted Systems (CSS) part of Natural Fiber Producers?
A: No. The companies function independently, but are also interdependent. Certified Sorted® Systems and Natural Fiber Producers both try to achieve the same goal – quality end-product for producers. Each organization has a different role, a different perspective, and a different responsibility.