The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has called for the long-awaited wool feasibility study to be published immediately.

ICSA Sheep chair Sean McNamara explained that anger is growing among sheep farmers due to “ridiculously low wool prices” in Ireland.

Although he acknowledged wool prices are struggling internationally, he said that Irish wool prices are particularly bad.

“Farmers in the North and Great Britain have received 36.4p/kg (42c/kg) for wool for 2021 which is double what Irish farmers are being offered – with quotes here coming in at in at 15c/kg to 20c/kg,” he said.

Wool study

“There is an urgent need for new thinking on how to increase the value of wool. The current inflationary environment is opening up opportunities for wool that may not have been economically viable up to now,” McNamara explained.

“Wool has a value as a fertiliser. The price of insulation is increasing rapidly in line with all construction costs and there is a real opportunity to capture that market using wool.

“However, as it stands farmers will not even be able to cover the cost of shearing again this year which is a total disgrace. Farmers are incredibly angry about this,” he continued

The ICSA Sheep chair said that he was disappointed that the much-anticipated wool feasibility study has yet to be published.

“We were promised the study would be delivered early in the year. Minister [for agriculture] McConalogue has now said it will be published in the coming weeks, but we have a lot of ground to make up if we are to breathe life back into the wool industry and give sheep farmers a decent return in the process.

“The study must function as a launch pad for the wool sector, and serious investment and action must follow,” McNamara concluded.

VBernie Forde Galway, Senator Victor Boyhan and Coleman Keane Wool Merchant. Image Source: Senator Victor Boyhan

Meanwhile, independent Senator Victor Boyhan, who is a member of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has supported the ICSA’s call for the study to be published immediately.

“Sheep wool is a sustainable, organic, renewable natural material which can be used in a wide range of products such as textiles, fertilisers, insulation and packaging – new opportunities for wool markets must be actively pursued by government in support of the sheep farmers,” Senator Boyhan said.

In November 2021, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine appointed ‘The Agile Executive’, a consortium of experts from Munster Technological University (MTU) and Donegal Yarns, to conduct the wool feasibility study.

Charlie McConalogue, wouldn’t be drawn on when the document is to be published, during question time in the Dáil recently.

However, he did confirm that it has reached the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and would be published in a number of weeks.