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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Opinion: Grant of €5/sheep would help farmers with shearing costs

In this article, Sean Canney, TD, calls for a €5.00/sheep shearing support measure for Irish farmers and shares his views on some of the Wool Feasibility Study’s recommendations.

I am calling on the government to immediately put a scheme in place to support farmers in defraying the cost of shearing sheep as an interim measure.

A grant of €5.00 per sheep would help farmers as the cost of shearing is now a huge burden on family farms.

Furthermore, I welcome the publication of the long-awaited Wool Feasibility Study.

Wool has been undervalued and under-utilised for far too long. Now, we have a clear pathway towards maximising the true potential of this valuable natural resource.

Wool uses

The establishment of a Wool Council and the proposed development of an Irish wool brand are hugely positive steps.

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The report has clearly identified the vast amount of uses for wool.

It is particularly good to see the inclusion of wool-based fertiliser and insulation as key areas of potential growth.”

The report illustrates the importance of capturing the benefits of wool as part of our increasingly important circular economy.

With food and energy security in focus globally, it has never been more important to capitalise on all our domestically produced natural resources, and wool is a very simple example of how we can achieve this.

The potential is in wool. We need to use this feasibility study as a pathway to revitalise the Irish wool industry. However, we need immediate supports for the sheep farmer.

Some of the key recommendations in the report:
  • A change in classification of wool away from Category 3 Animal By-Product status could help perceptions of the value of the wool, although this change may impact the overall LCA of wool;
  • Encourage the certification and accreditation of shearing contractors with an emphasis on animal welfare standards. Authors suggest these parties could take a role in encouraging “good” presentation of fleeces;
  • Incentivise pricing to farmers for only presenting properly dagged/skirted wool to collectors. This may involve two-tier pricing for skirted or un-skirted wool. This will give the farmer an option to earn more by skirting and sorting the waste wool;
  • Possibility of establishing localised fertiliser composting or pelleting facilities. It suggests the waste extracted at the on-farm skirting stage can be transported in trailers to local composting facilities.
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