Ulster Wool launches new scheme for first-time sheep farmers

Ulster Wool has introduced a new scheme designed to support producers who have recently entered the industry.

Launching for the 2018 season, the scheme will see eligible producers receive 100% of their clip value as an upfront payment for their first two years, along with a priority wool in-take and grading service through Ulster Wool’s depot network.

It means the new producers’ wool will be auctioned off at the earliest opportunity.

How it works

Those behind the scheme say it will not cost existing wool producers anything to run, as the new suppliers will transition on to the standard payment scheme over the next three years through adjusted balancing payments.

Over the life of the five-year scheme, the new entrants will receive the same cash as they would have done had they been on the standard payment scheme throughout that period.

The payment system aims to make cash available to new and young farmers at a time when they need it most.

Ulster Wool is British Wool’s Northern Ireland arm. The not-for-profit organisation collects wool from producers and acts as an agent to sell on to third parties. It holds 18 auctions every year.

It also invests in research and development work to find new niches and opportunities for wool.

Eligible new entrants will receive their wool payments as follows:

Year 1 – the advance payment will be set to 100% of the prior year’s clip value;

Year 2 – the advance payment will be set to 100% of the prior year’s clip value, plus or minus any balance from the previous year;

Year 3 – the advance payment will be set to 75% of the prior year’s clip value, plus or minus any balance from the previous year;

Year 4 – the advance payment will be set to 50% of the prior year’s clip value, plus or minus any balance from the previous year;

Year 5 onwards – payments will be in line with all other Ulster Wool registered producers.

Joe Farren, chief executive, said: “Investing in the future of the industry is an essential part of our strategy, and we want to play a key role in encouraging young farmers into the industry.

Any start-up business requires support to be successful, so increased up-front payments during the first two years will help ease the pressure on cash flow.

“Through this initiative, we hope to appeal to young farmers to market their wool through us and thus safeguard the long-term future of Ulster Wool for the benefit of all our members.

“Eligible producers will be paid exactly the same prices as all our producers. This is purely an early years cash-flow support scheme.”

In order to be eligible for the scheme, a producer must not have previously been registered with Ulster Wool, and have kept sheep for fewer than five years.