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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 25 June, 2019
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Bleak Irish wool sales raise concerns industry is 'declining into oblivion'

A representative of sheep farmers said that “all indications point to an impending total price collapse”.

Image: Shutterstock/Albaa

RECENT SALES OF wool have raised concerns that the Irish industry is “declining into oblivion” according to a group representing farmers.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association chairman John Brooks said that ”sales at the Bradford Wool Sales are a key indicator of what Irish farmers can expect to achieve for wool. Unfortunately, all indications point to an impending total price collapse”.

At the wool auction held last week, the total weight offered at auction was 1.475m/kg while the total weight sold was 0.735m/kg, bringing a clearance of just 49.8%.

Standard sales would often see over 2m kg up for sale with a clearance of over 90%.

“With prices also continuing to fall, the result is that buyers are not quoting for Irish wool as the market just isn’t there,” Brooks said.

The organisation has called for the establishment of a dedicated Irish Wool Forum to address the issue. 

Brooks added: “It makes no sense to sit back and watch an industry decline into oblivion.

We already have some great businesses here that harness all the qualities of wool and produce the finest products including: fabrics, bedding, carpeting and for insulation purposes. 
While we commend these businesses, they utilise only a fraction of wool produced annually.

But there’s another concern: if the industry ramps up production, it also increases the chance of animal welfare issues arising.

“This is a real vicious circle; the price achieved for wool is not covering the cost of shearing. Then, to add insult to injury, we see what should be considered a valuable and environmentally friendly raw material being dumped.”

Brooks said: “The reality is the future should be bright for wool. At a time when policies in all sectors are moving towards anti-waste positions, I see no reason why wool should be treated any differently.”

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