No Hiding Place for Minister on Direct Supports for Sheep Farmers for Wool Following Publication of Feasibility Study

Sheep in Wicklow

IFA Sheep Chairman Kevin Comiskey said the content of the long-awaited Wool Feasibility Study offers very little to farmers.

He said €100,000 has been spent and a lot of time lost for a report that merely confirms what industry and farmers already know.

Kevin Comiskey said the recommendations of the report are another tactic to delay supporting farmers for what is a huge cost burden on sheep farms.

He said IFA will certainly actively participate in the Wool Council, but this forum if successful 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.

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

“There are no immediate pathways identified that will increase the value of wool at the farm gate and direct support for farmers for this critically important animal health and welfare practice on farms must be provided,” he said.

The report does recognise the substantive point that IFA have consistently put forward in stating: ‘The buy-in of farmers to the potential value of wool is essential as without it, every other player along the value chain will be happy to exploit this resource without rewarding the primary producers’.

Kevin Comiskey said this is as clear a call out for the need for direct support for the primary producer as you could expect from a Government-funded study.

IFA has sought the inclusion of shearing as an action in the new Sheep Improvement Scheme throughout the CAP process, but the Minister and his officials have refused to include it.

He said the Minister must now come forward with his 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.

“Sheep farmers are already under enormous pressure with input costs.  They do not have the capacity to absorb these costs. Shearing is a significant annual cost for sheep farmers which the Minister can address if there is a will to do so,” he said.

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