Irish wool – an important potential revenue stream for sheep farmers.

Irish wool – an important potential revenue stream for sheep farmers.

Green Party TD for Waterford, Marc Ó Cathasaigh, has welcomed moves by the Department of Agriculture to develop and promote Irish wool, an important potential revenue stream for sheep farmers.

Responding to the launch of the Wool Feasibility Report earlier this month, Dep. Ó Cathasaigh outlined the steps being taken to develop and value an important resource on Irish sheep farms:

‘The idea of investigating potential markets for wool products was initially brought to me by Edmund Phelan, who was then President of the ICSA (Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers Association), during government formation talks. As one of the lead negotiators for the Programme for Government, I argued successfully for its inclusion in that document, and this commitment has been taken up by my colleague, Minister Pippa Hackett.’

One of the main recommendations of the report is the establishment of an industry-led Wool Council which would develop and promote Irish wool domestically and internationally, bringing together multiple stakeholders to foster collaboration, innovation and scaling activities. The report suggests that the broadly based membership of this voluntary Council should include a mix of primary producer farmers and stakeholders/supporters, including commercial enterprises who are willing to fund research and promotions and to advise on scaling of micro businesses involved in the wool sector.

‘Farmers are currently being paid around 20c per kilo of wool, which makes no good business sense – it often costs more to shear the animal than the fleece is worth. This is a premium product with an international reputation and we need to recognise this and promote it as such.  Wool is a low carbon, organic and natural material which has many traditional and new uses in fabrics, insulation, packaging, fertiliser and more. It is a sustainable and renewable product and above all, it is plentiful in Ireland. Sheep farmers are currently shearing and they’re not getting a fair price for their wool. There are opportunities there for Irish sheep farmers and this report will help to identify potential markets.’

Minister of State for Agriculture with special responsibility for land use and biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett said:

“I am delighted to announce the publication of this valuable report which contains a wealth of information for stakeholders and industry including potential funding streams, market opportunities for wool including fertiliser and insulation, and multiple areas for further research and development.”

“I now call on stakeholders and industry to come together to form a Wool Council that will lead the industry collaboration and innovation needed to develop and promote Irish wool domestically and internationally. Following the formation by industry of a Wool Council representative of a broad range of stakeholders, our department will provide financial assistance of €30,000 towards the initial set-up costs.”