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Wool market in ‘catastrophic’ state

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has written to the Department of Agricultural, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA) Minister Edwin Poots, reiterating the dire situation of the global wool market.

It has not been operating since the beginning of February following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and at present, only a few local online auctions are taking place, the farm group said.

The UFU outlined that it is hopeful that DAERA have taken their concerns outlined in the letter on board, alongside the issues Ulster Wool highlighted during their meeting with Minister Poots on June 24th regarding the “catastrophic” state of the wool market.

Wool sector ‘remains in turmoil’

Nigel McLaughlin, hill farming committee chair said, “The wool sector remains in turmoil due to trade disruptions caused by the pandemic.”

“We wrote to Minister Poots in late May about the grim conditions of the global wool market which are a direct result of COVID-19 and have also been working closely with Ulster Wool and British Wool.”

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“We would now like to see steps being taken to address the market conditions.”

“The implications of the wool market, combined with the fall of farmgate prices, has resulted in sheep producers across the country struggling to get by as all their revenue streams have taken a financial hit.”

He said that sheep farmers did not receive much of a balance payment for last year’s wool as huge volumes of unsold wool remain in stock here in Northern Ireland due to the market collapse.

Challenges created by Covid likely to linger for 12-18 months

“It is likely that the challenges created by COVID-19 will linger for the next 12-18 months stressing the need for financial intervention to address the global wool market crisis.”

“We have requested for financial solutions from DAERA to help alleviate the situation and help sustain Northern Ireland’s family-run sheep businesses.”

“The entire sheep industry benefits from Ulster Wool being successful and we would ask that the Minister considers this as part of his COVID-19 support package for the sheep sector,” McLaughlin concluded.

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