UFU urges farmers to support Ulster Wool

Monday, 18 January, 2021

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging farmers to be supportive of Ulster Wool following a very difficult year. In 2020 the wool market collapsed due to the pandemic, but it is vital that farmers continue to use Ulster Wool’s services to ensure it remains open post coronavirus (COVID-19).

The UFU has been lobbying the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) Minster Edwin Poots since the middle of last year to gain financial support for the wool sector. While Government have not yet delivered funding to help sustain the wool sector, the UFU remains hopeful that the matter will be addressed.

UFU hill farming chair Nigel McLaughlin said, “Difficult times lie ahead for the wool sector. NI has only one grading depot located in Muckamore, Co. Antrim and to ensure that it survives and remains open in future, it’s vital that farmers continue to supply wool to the depot. In similarity with other businesses, operational costs for Ulster Wool are rising as a result of the pandemic and the only way to prevent this is if the volume of wool Muckamore receives increases.”

The collapse of the wool market has affected the income of primary sheep producers with the majority having received little to nothing for the 2019 clip. Recently lamb prices have been stable and increasing but a large percent of hill and upland farmers have not been able to benefit from this as their lambs were sold as stores by autumn. With approximately 35-40 percent of the 2020 clip already sold, this season does not look any brighter with lockdown measures remaining in place.

“I understand many of our farmers will be disappointed and frustrated by the returns we are getting for our wool this year, but Ulster Wool are working hard on our behalf, representing our best interests. I’d advise farmers to continue to support Ulster Wool in these difficult times to help sustain the sector and ensure we come out the other side of these unprecedented times in a secure position. Farmers can contact the Muckamore depot on 028 9446 2131. Staff will be able to provide information on collection sites in their local area or can help to arrange delivery of their wool,” said Mr Mc Laughlin.