The group, totalling 48 in all, were treated to a tour of the BWMB's new headquarters and the North of England Wools depot at Canal Road, Bradford, where BWMB Chairman Malcolm Corbett, Chief Executive Officer Ian Hartley and Producer Relations Manager Gareth Jones were all on hand to explain BWMB's work.
The visit saw the discussion group members being shown every aspect of the BWMB’s work in grading, selling and promoting wool. The group also visited a local scouring plant to see the first step in the wool supply chain after it has been sold at a BWMB auction.
A major part of the visit was the tour of the North of England Wools depot, where the group were shown how wool arriving at the depot is graded and packed into auction lots ready for sale in one of BWMB's computerised auctions, which take place 22 times throughout the year. The grading of the fleeces according to quality is an integral part of BWMB’s role as it ensures wool is sold to the producer’s best advantage.
The farmers were very impressed with the level of detail involved in grading wool and the speed BWMB graders are able to operate at, explained Mr Jones. "Farmers are often surprised at the level of skill involved in grading fleeces and it always helps give them a real insight into the process and the importance of presenting fleeces in the correct manner for grading.
Group organiser Margaret Dalton said the entire group had been impressed with the level of skill and dedication shown by the graders. "Many of us hadn't realised that it took a five year apprenticeship for a grader to complete their training. It really is a skilled job and seeing it first-hand gave everyone a much better understanding of how important it is that wool is graded accurately.
"Anyone who has the chance to visit the BWMB should take the opportunity. It really is a fantastic organisation doing a great job for British sheep farmers. Every sheep farmer should send their wool to BWMB as that gives us collective strength in the market place which no single farmer would ever have."
Group member Eddie Thomas from Llynybyther was particularly struck by the need to present fleeces in a clean and dry condition when sending wool to BWMB. "It was quite extraordinary to see some of the contaminants coming through with the fleeces and having seen that, it makes you realise just how important it is to send fleeces in as good a condition as possible. This is particularly important when wool is back at good prices again."
The visitors were given a presentation on the promotion and marketing activity of BWMB, explained Mr Jones. “The marketing of British wool is another important aspect of the BWMB’s activities and coupled with the good work being done by the Campaign for Wool there are a lot of opportunities to be had.”
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