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Farmer urges brethren to support & sell to the Wool Board
Sep '08
A Welsh sheep producer, who admits he has sold his wool to exporters in the past, has made a plea to other sheep farmers to support the British Wool Marketing Board or face a future where many flocks will have no market at all for their annual clip.

Dilwyn John, who runs a flock of South Wales Mountain sheep near of Merthyr Tydfil, says he doesn't want other sheep farmers to be badly treated in the way he was when he started selling his wool to an exporter.

“I admit I've sold my wool to an exporter for three years but I've now been back with the Board for two years and that's where I'll be staying.

“The exporters are doing nothing more than picking and choosing which wool they want to buy. They've no concern for the long-term future of sheep farmers, or the wool they produce, and will do a tremendous amount of damage to our wool industry.

“I'm fearful of what will happen to the long-term marketing of our wool if sheep farmers sell their wool for export instead of supporting the Board,” says Mr John who farms at Danygraig, Cwmtaff, Merthyr Tydfil.

Mr John says when he approached the exporter after selling to him for three years he was told that his wool wasn't needed but that he'd be paid a nominal price of 10p a kilo provided he delivered it within 24 hours.

“He wasn't a bit interested in me as a customer or my wool; his attitude said it all. These traders will drop sheep farmers like a hot brick as soon as they stop needing their wool, but they'll destroy the Wool Board system in the process if farmers do business with them,” said Mr John.

Sennybridge sheep farmer Gethin Havard, recently appointed as Vice-Chairman of the British Wool Marketing Board, said Mr John's experience was typical among the small number of sheep producers in Wales who had been “taken in” by export buyers.

“These wool traders make promises on price but they pick their way carefully through the wool they're offered and only take what they can make the most profit from.

“Sheep producers are now realising that the exporters aren't here to provide a long-term wool marketing service, they're simply cherry-picking through the clips they're offered, taking only what they want and leaving farmers to find a home for the rest,” says Gethin.

He stresses that the more wool handled by the BWMB the lower its handling costs will be.

“The UK wool clip is in decline and the Board needs every sheet of wool to sustain its marketing operation to producers.

Selling to exporters is a short-sighted option that will undermine the BWMB and force an uncertain future for wool marketing in the UK.

“The Board does a huge amount of work in marketing British wool world-wide and through its shearing training.

“The exporters have minimal overheads and only want to make a profit out of sheep farmers while putting nothing back into the wool sector or British farming” said Mr Havard, who added that the weakening value of the pound and the resumption of wool exports to China was having a positive influence on the trade for British wool.

British Wool Marketing Board

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