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Stackyard News Jul 07

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Time to Debate Future of Scottish Wool Clip

NFU Scotland is highlighting the need to determine the best and most profitable future for the Scottish wool clip.

Shearing costs are around £1 per ewe

Shearing costs are around £1 per ewe

Currently, the entire British wool clip is handled by the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB). This is a statutory body set up under the British Wool Marketing Scheme Order of 1950. Under the current act of parliament any producer with more than 4 sheep has to register with the wool board. The producer places the marketing of that wool with the board. This board then has the duty of collecting, sorting and auctioning that wool on behalf of the producer.

NFU Scotland’s Livestock Committee has been increasingly concerned with the returns provided to NFUS members by the BWMB. After a presentation given to the committee by Ian Hartley, Managing Director of the BWMB, those concerns have not been assuaged.

Kelvin Pate, NFUS Livestock Committee Chairman, said:

“The committee’s concerns relate to the high overheads of running the wool board versus falling returns. The current returns do not make for attractive reading. The auction price for greasy wool is running at around 75 pence per kilo. The BWMB requires a 31 pence deduction to recover its own costs. It then passes back the balance to producers. This can sometimes be a return of only 15-20 pence per kilo, depending on the type of wool.

“Shearing costs are around £1 per ewe and other costs such as haulage and casual labour employed rolling fleeces all add to those costs. This means a dead loss on the value of the clip. It is not so long ago that farm rents were paid by the wool cheque. This is a serious concern and perhaps now is the time to consider alternatives strategies.

“NFUS believes that there should be a referendum of wool producers in Scotland to determine whether the present marketing structure is delivering for producers or whether an independent report should be commissioned to devise a future marketing scheme which will deliver the full rewards.”

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NFU Scotland