NAT enters into agreement to produce flax fibre
Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. (NAT) today announced it has entered into an agreement with Carolina Eastern Precision Ag, of Pamplico, S.C., to provide agronomic consultation to the Company and its contractors in the region.
Under the terms of the agreement, Carolina Eastern will assist NAT in the recruitment of growers and contractors, and advise on all cultivation related to flax that will be turned into its branded CRAiLAR fiber including seeding rates, fertilization, and weed control.
NAT plans to contract more than 15,000 acres of flax, grown as a winter crop, in its first year. The harvest will be the first used under a purchasing agreement with HanesBrands for CRAiLAR Flax fiber announced in March 2011. This follows an 18-month pilot program with HanesBrands and the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA - ARS), which verified the opportunity for flax growth in the region.
By the first quarter of 2012, NAT anticipates it will build an integrated facility in Williamsburg County capable of producing 300,000 lbs. of CRAiLAR Flax fiber per week. S.C. is one of two flax fiber-producing regions strategically chosen by NAT for the location of facilities.
"This announcement is a culmination of a two-year process that took a significant amount of effort from South Carolina's Department of Commerce, the USDA - ARS, Williamsburg County, and HanesBrands," said Jason Finnis, founder and COO of NAT. "We are confident in the experience and relationships that Carolina Eastern brings to our team," continued Finnis, "And we anticipate that their team's knowledge of the region, from both the agronomic and economic standpoints, will allow us to quickly and smoothly ramp up production demand to bring CRAiLAR Flax to market," he concluded.
The Carolina Eastern team will be led by Charles "Russell" Duncan, who spent 27 years as an agricultural extension agent in the Pee Dee area of S.C. with Clemson University. A native of S.C., he worked in Clarendon, Florence, Marion and Williamsburg counties during his tenure, and served as administrator for the Clarendon and Williamsburg offices.
He is currently serving as chair of the International Certified Crop Adviser board, a national program of the American Society of Agronomy, which has established benchmarks for education, experience and ethics in agronomy.
"CRAiLAR Flax fiber is one of the well-researched agronomic opportunities we've seen in South Carolina in my entire career," said Duncan. "Between their partnerships with a well-established end-user in HanesBrands, along with institutional research and the potential for local financing, we are excited about the opportunity we will be presenting in coming months and hope for a long-term opportunity to be established among farmers looking for winter crop alternatives."
Companies with which NAT is currently engaged in purchasing or development agreements include Georgia-Pacific, Levi Strauss & Company, Cintas Corporation, Ashland Inc., and HanesBrands.