Sheep farmers selling wool at a loss

Farmers are selling wool at a loss, according to ICSA Sheep Chairman, Paul Brady.

“The average sheep produces 2.5-to3kg of wool, and with top prices for good lowland wool coming in around €1.20/kg, farmers are not recovering their costs at present,” said Mr. Brady.

“Shearing costs €2 to €3 per head depending on flock size, plus there is the added cost of an additional man unit for each day of shearing. Farmers must also carry the cost of transporting the wool to the buyer, further decreasing the opportunity to make any profit.”

“Wool is an all-natural, environmentally-friendly product,” continued Mr. Brady. “Sheep’s wool products are sold at premium prices by retailers, yet primary producers are unable to cover their costs.”

Speaking to Agriland recently, Vincent Pierce, from Wicklow-based wool merchants Laurence Pierce Ltd, 95% of the wool produced in Ireland is destined for export.

“China is by far the biggest player in the market, accounting for 40% of global sales,” he added.

“There is no scouring sector in Ireland. The wool industry just isn’t big enough to justify the setting up of such a business. As a consequence, wool is exported from Ireland in its greasy state. The prices that we receive reflect the percentage of the wool contained within the packed bales and the presentation of the product. New Zealand tends the lead the way in this regard with Ireland a little bit behind.”

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