Robin Raine retires with aplomb as member of Wool Board
Achieving the best possible returns to producers will always be a priority of the British Wool Marketing Board but if sheep farmers had no Board in place to market their wool the consequences for the sheep sector would be unthinkable, says Cumbria farmer Robin Raine.
After nine years as English Northern member of the British Wool Marketing Board, Robin Raine retires this month. His tenure has been at a time of significant change for the Board which has undertaken a radical programme of cost cutting to cope with the reduced UK wool clip and the world-wide fall in wool values.
Robin Raine initially served on the Regional Committee of the BWMB and was successful in being elected as English Northern member in 1999. He also served as Vice-Chairman of the Board from 2003-2007.
"My aim has always been to improve the returns for sheep producers and to work to drive the Board forward in all its many roles as the main marketing arm for British wool. But these have been very difficult times.
"Foot and mouth had a big impact on the amount of wool handled by the Board and the reducing UK ewe flock - as well as the lower prices being paid for wool world-wide - has made cost cutting and re-structuring essential. I know that sheep producers are frustrated by the low prices of wool but we've seen what's happened to milk and I firmly believe that a UK sheep sector without a Wool Marketing Board would be unthinkable," says Robin.
He believes a lot of sheep farmers still don't fully understand how the Board operates. "The Board acts as a clearing house for wool and aims to sell it for the best possible price on behalf of sheep farmers. The Board is not a wool buying business, its role is to work on behalf of farmers as a selling agent," says Robin Raine.
He believes that when sheep producers sell wool to export buyers they are undermining the Board's role within the sheep sector." The exporters would never replace the Board and buy the entire UK clip. They are in business working purely to make a profit for themselves."
Robin Raine urges sheep producers to become more aware of the work of the BWMB and to understand the extent of the marketing it undertakes to promote British Wool across the world.
"Without doubt anyone who takes the time to visit the Board's headquarters and to become more aware of what happens to their wool once it leaves the farm acknowledges that producers would be much worse off without an effective marketing organisation to handle its wool - not to mention the many other marketing and promotional roles undertaken by the Board and its reputation for shearing training."
The Raine family is one of Cumbria's most well known farming dynasties and now the third generation are farming around 4500 ewes on four units in the east of the county. Robin Raine farms in partnership with his brother Randall and cousins David and John in a business based on breeding Swaledales and North of England Mules. The family also runs successful flocks of Bluefaced Leicesters.
Commented Wool Board Chairman Frank Langrish: "We are indebted to Robin's efforts over the years. He's been a stalwart member of the Board and provided a vital link with northern wool producers sending wool into the Board's Carlisle depot."
British Wool Marketing Board