What next for wool? - Vice President's Blog - 27 July 2020

In a year when prices are at rock bottom because of Covid-19 disruption, wool has a role to play in building the circular economy according to Vice President Martin Kennedy.

Here in Highland Perthshire, the only thing that we are pushing to finish is shearing.  The cross ewes and the cheviots are all clipped leaving only the blackfaces to do. 

Shearing this year is being done almost purely as an animal welfare task as the price is through the floor. Gone are the days when the wool cheque would either pay the shepherd’s wage or indeed pay the rent of the farm for a year.

Unfortunately, the poor returns we receive for wool are compounded this year because of the market disruption caused by Covid-19.  Recently, NFU Scotland wrote to UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Agriculture Victoria Prentis, requesting that the UK Government work with British Wool to produce package of support that would be at least commensurate with the business support offered to other companies suffering from the impacts of coronavirus disruption.

Wool is a fantastic product.  It is 100% natural; it is renewable and it is also very versatile in that it can be used in a wide range of products. The problem is that it is much more expensive to process and using fossil fuels to manufacture alternatives to wool still seems to be the favoured option to the vast majority. 

We have many emergencies affecting society currently.  We have the immediate Covid-19 crisis, which is having a devastating effect on our health and at the same time crippling our economy.  We have a climate change emergency that has given us all emission reduction targets to reach in a short timescale and we also have a housing crisis where not enough houses are being built to meet the demand. 

Surely this is when we should be maximising the potential of our own products.  If we were to invest more in our processing sectors, we can create more jobs, add value to what we produce, become less reliant on imports thereby reducing emissions, and if we use wool as an example, insulate our houses with one of the best known natural renewable resources there is on the planet. 

Wool has a role to play in building the circular economy.  It is durable, flexible, flame and water resistant, sustainable, renewable and biodegradable.

When it ticks so many boxes, wool has the potential to assist greatly in the much talked about ‘Green Recovery’ of our economy. 

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Lorraine G Luescher

541 days ago

Spot on Martin - it seems like sacrilege to be dumping such a tremendous and wholly renewable product. You omitted to say that sheep even lock up carbon in their wool, which contains some 50% carbon.
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