The Wool Feasibility Study published by the Department of Agriculture on Friday offers very little to farmers, says the IFA.

IFA sheep chair Kevin Comiskey said that “€100,000 has been spent and a lot of time lost for a report that merely confirms what industry and farmers already know”.

Slamming the report, Comiskey said its recommendations are “another tactic to delay supporting farmers for what is a huge cost burden on sheep farms”.

Wool Council

The sheep farmer acknowledged that the IFA will “actively participate” in the Wool Council, a group recommended in the report, which would develop and promote an Irish-grown wool brand. However, he warned that this forum “will not have any meaningful impact on the price of wool at the farm gate for the foreseeable future”.

“We are in another clipping season with wool prices of 20c/kg providing no incentive for farmers to present the wool for further added value use,” he said.

Comiskey said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and his colleague Minister of State Pippa Hackett have “hidden behind this report for the past two years to avoid addressing the issue for sheep farmers”.

‘No immediate pathways’

The IFA sheep chair said it was critical that there “are no immediate pathways identified” in the wool study which “will increase the value of wool at the farm gate”.

He said that therefore “direct support for farmers for this critically important animal health and welfare practice on farms must be provided.”

Comiskey highlighted that through the development of the new CAP, the IFA has sought the inclusion of shearing as an action in the new Sheep Improvement Scheme, but that the minister and his officials have refused to include it.

He called on Minister McConalogue to now come forward with proposals to support sheep farmers directly for the shearing costs, with incentives to ensure the wool is presented in optimal condition for further added value uses.

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