Sheep farmers ask industries to make wool 'first choice'

Farmers are encouraging UK industries to embrace British wool and become more sustainable
Farmers are encouraging UK industries to embrace British wool and become more sustainable

Sheep producers are encouraging industries to make wool their choice of fibre as a campaign gets underway to highlight its natural qualities.

The sheep sector is celebrating the start of Wool Week (5 October - 18) today, and farmers are calling on politicians and green activists to back British wool.

The annual event aims to put a spotlight on wool’s natural performance qualities and ecological benefits.

The sector is keen to highlight the fact that fabrics such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are all forms of plastic and make up about 60% of the material that makes up clothes worldwide.

The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) is encouraging UK industries to embrace British wool, and, in turn, become more sustainable.

Deputy president Ian Rickman said: “Every year our sheep will produce a new fleece and they will do so as long as there is grass for them to graze on, making wool an excellent renewable fibre source.

"That is especially true if compared to synthetic fibres, which require oil and refineries and are a non-renewable resource for fibre production.”

Mr Rickman added that sheep farmers were constantly working to safeguard the environment and improve efficiency in livestock production.

The pull on natural resources and reductions required in the use of fossil fuels, he said, meant that consumers would have to look at their longer-term choices.

“We feed the nation with sustainable and well cared for lamb and take our responsibility to look after the environment seriously," Mr Rickman explained.

“The tiny plastic particles shed from our clothes take a very long time to degrade in the soil and are ingested by fish and other animals.

"We, therefore, need to make choices on an individual level in terms of what we consume - be it food or clothes.”

He added that whilst it was encouraging that the Welsh government had pledged to consider more British wool for insulation in public buildings.

It comes as the Covid-19 pandemic has had disastrous consequences for the wool industry, particularly the export market.

Mr Rickman added: "We believe that if there is a will and full commitment by Governments to do the right thing, the benefits will be felt by our entire environment as well as sheep farmers.”