The Farmers’ Union of Wales has written to Economy Minister, Ken Skates, following the news that British Wool has been denied covid-19 support through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLs).
The covid-19 pandemic has led to a significant drop in demand for wool as the global market for cross bred wool has been shut since February this year.
The busiest selling period for GB and Welsh wool is between February and May each year and the impact of the coronavirus on wool sales has therefore been particularly acute.
In its letter, the FUW highlighted the impact that the closure of wool markets would have on the price received by sheep farmers for their wool and highlighted that sheep producers must still pay for this year's shearing costs.
FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman said: “The closure of normal wool markets has left British Wool with around one third of their wool stock unsold and this has had a direct impact on sheep producer incomes. This unsold stock not only detrimentally affects calculated wool values, which are payable for the 2019-20 balance, but also means that British Wool are unable to pay an advance for this season’s wool.”
Despite funding being made available to other wool purchasers, British Wool has failed to qualify for support as they have been classified as a public sector body.
“British Wool is wholly independent, self-funding and operates within a competitive market place. We believe that British Wool should have fully qualified for support under the CBILs scheme or some other variation of covid-19 support for businesses.
“Given the impact upon both the sector and upon primary producers, we have made our views known and have written to the Minister to call for a rethink on this funding decision,” added Ian Rickman.