The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has criticised Minister of State for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett for failing to do more to resolve the collapse in wool prices.
Describing the €100,000 wool feasibility study published in July, IFA sheep chair Kevin Comiskey said it “merely told us what everybody in the sector already knew and since the publication of the report [Minister Hackett] has gone silent on the issue”.
Comiskey made his comments following a meeting with British Wool in Bradford, England, last week.
He said the wool industry in the UK has led in developing its own brand through British Wool and, therefore, has maximised the value of wool for UK farmers. He insisted that lessons need to be learned from this approach.
The IFA sheep chair slammed Government inaction on the wool markets in Ireland at a time when there are “undeniable environmental credentials of wool for upgrading from a waste material to a renewable resource for the production of multiple products”.
Comiskey said that Minister Hackett failed to take advantage of the opportunity to support farmers for shearing costs and in the presentation of wool to optimise its potential through supports in the Sheep Improvement Scheme in the CAP and, subsequently, in the budget.
He called for the “immediate convening” of the sheep industry group recommended in the wool feasibility study to advance the process of adding value to the wool sheep farmers produce and to put the structures in place that reward farmers for this environmentally sustainable raw material.
The Leitrim sheep farmer said there are “huge opportunities” to develop a unique brand for Irish wool and warned that this work must commence “immediately”.
“Discussions with British Wool show what can be achieved where a co-ordinated approach with Government support is provided in the promotion, marketing and processing of wool. These are systems and structures that can and must be replicated for Irish wool,” he said.