€100,000 wool feasibility study needs to focus on market potential

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has welcomed the government commitment to undertake a feasibility study on wool which was announced by Minister of State for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett as part of Budget 2021.

ICSA Sheep chair Sean McNamara said: “ICSA has been at the centre of a push to reverse the decline in the value of wool.

This €100,000 feasibility study on the wool market must focus on the potential for wool to contribute significantly to our green economy, and on delivering a return to sheep farmers for the supply of that wool.

“Work undertaken so far by ICSA has revealed there is massive scope to revitalise the entire wool industry here.

“There are a wealth of uses for wool which span across a whole range of sectors, and the priority now must be capturing that potential. It is time for wool to take its place as a valued and valuable natural resource,” McNamara said.

Last year, quotes for lowland-type wool were in around 50c/kg, with some farmers getting up to as much as 70c/kg.

Earlier this summer, AgriLand spoke to some wool merchants to get a feel for what wool might be worth this year.

Most merchants were quoting between 10c/kg and 20c/kg for lowland wool, with hill-type wool as good as worthless.

Sheep welfare scheme

The ICSA also welcomed the clarity around the continuation of the Sheep Welfare Scheme but said the lack of an increase in the rate of payment was “disappointing”.

“ICSA believes the scheme does need considerable new investment will continue to lobby for a €30/head sheep payment in the next round of CAP [Common Agricultural Policy],” McNamara concluded.

Previously, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue confirmed that proposals in relation to new or alternative uses for raw wool from the industry would be considered.