A major feasibility study on wool commissioned by the Department of Agriculture has been recognised as the first step in revitalising the wool industry by farm organisations.
The study will have a total budget of €100,000 to identify potential products and market opportunities both domestically and internationally for wool.
Launching the study, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Senator Pippa Hackett said: “Wool is plentiful in this country and I am really keen to see how we can make the best of it.
“I expect to be going to market for a firm to conduct the feasibility study sometime in May, but before I do that, I want to consult with stakeholders to make sure we get the terms of reference right.”
IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy said it was unacceptable that the collapse in the wool market has resulted in shearing becoming a costly, but vital, task on sheep farms.
“Wool is a natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly product. Greater use of wool should be encouraged and its true value recognised,” Dennehy said.
He stressed the importance of the €100,000 study moving ahead as a matter of urgency.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) sheep chair Sean McNamara lamented the dumping of wool due to low prices.
“The downfall in price, particularly in 2020, was not only catastrophic for sheep farmers, but it also resulted in so much of this valuable natural resource going to waste. This is something that must never be repeated,” he said.
He said the ICSA had established a wool steering group bringing together stakeholders from across the wool industry to chart a way forward after wool prices fell as low as 10c/kg.
ICSA organics chair Fergal Byrne added: “Thankfully, there are people right around the country who understand the value in what others wrongly class as a waste product.
“We have identified a wealth of uses for wool, which span across a whole range of sectors and the priority now must be capturing that potential and delivering a viable return for sheep farmers.”