The delay in publishing the long-awaited wool feasibility study has been described as “unconscionable” by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), as sheep farmers, it says, “endure another disastrous wool-clipping season”.
“Wool has been valued as practically worthless for three consecutive years now and sheep farmers are at their wits’ end,” said ICSA sheep chair, Sean McNamara.
“It makes no sense that this valuable natural resource is only worth around 20c/kg to farmers when we know the myriad of uses it could be put to.”
Sheep farmer in Ireland are relying on this feasibility study, he said, to “breathe life back into the wool sector”.
“It is a disgrace that another year’s clip has not been properly valued or properly utilised,” he continued.
“This year we also have the added pressure of the rising cost of shearing. Everything has shot up in price and the standard quote for shearing is now €3/head. Shearing is an expense that is becoming more and more difficult to bear, with wool prices as flat as they are.”
Wool merchants are also feeling the pressure due to the lack of domestic markets for wool, he added.
“The potential is there for all the wool produced in this country to be used as insulation or fertiliser, but we need to get our hands on the wool feasibility study, and we need to see action on getting these types of businesses up and running.”
He suggested that the best option for sheep farmers may be to hold on to their wool this year.
“Between the inflated cost of shearing, the low prices we’re getting for our wool, plus the cost of fuel to even get the wool to the merchants, it might not even be worth selling.
“Storing wool for time being may be the way to go as we anticipate the wool feasibility study will address all the issues around wool composting and using wool as a fertiliser.
“Farmers could then at least get some value out of their wool by using it on their own farms.”