NI farmers urged to support Ulster Wool after 'difficult year'

The Ulster Farmers' Union is urging farmers to be supportive of Ulster Wool following a 'difficult year'
The Ulster Farmers' Union is urging farmers to be supportive of Ulster Wool following a 'difficult year'

Northern Irish farmers are being urged to support and supply Ulster Wool's only depot to help sustain the beleaguered sector post Covid-19.

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.

The government has not delivered funding to help sustain the region's wool sector despite lobbying attempts.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it is now 'vital' for farmers to use Ulster Wool’s services to ensure it remains open after the crisis ends.

Ulster Wool, which has one wool grading depot in Muckamore, Co Antrim, works on behalf of 4,000 farmers to maximise the returns received for their wool.

But UFU hill farming chair Nigel McLaughlin said 'difficult times lay ahead' for the sector, and producers must still supply the depot.

"To ensure that it survives and remains open in future, it’s vital that farmers continue to supply wool to the depot," he added.

"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.”

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.

Mr McLaughlin added: “I understand many of our farmers will be disappointed 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 depot on 028 9446 2131, and staff will be able to provide information on collection sites in their local area or help arrange delivery of wool.