ICSA and wool industry figures ‘chart way forward’ for sector

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has met with figures from the wool industry with the aim of “charting a way forward” for the sector.

The discussion, held today (Wednesday, September 16), was focused on “increasing the potential of the wool industry and increasing the return to sheep farmers for their wool”.

“Today’s gathering brought together stakeholders from across the wool spectrum. We were joined by primary producers, merchants and those in the textile industry,” said Sean McNamara, the association’s sheep chairperson.

All were agreed that the status of wool must be elevated, and that it must be viewed as a unique and valued natural resource.

Meanwhile, ICSA organics chairperson Fergal Byrne said: “Over five million kilograms of wool are produced in this country annually and we must endeavour to put it all to good use. We are not satisfied that, under current EU guidelines, wool is classified as a waste product… We believe that this must change.

“Going forward wool must be considered an important commodity that can generate jobs in the green economy and also be of financial benefit to sheep farmers,” Byrne added.

The reality is the future should be bright for wool. We do not want to see a repeat of scenes earlier this year when farmers had no choice but to dump wool when we know there is a variety of different uses that it can be put to.

The discussion today explored the feasibility of a scouring plant in Ireland, and it was agreed that this should be “further investigated”.

Currently, wool is exported to the UK for this process, and the ICSA is warning that this may become more problematic due to Brexit.

“Together as a group we are determined that this environmentally friendly natural resource no longer goes to waste,” concluded Byrne.