COVID-19: Farmers forced to compost wool harvest as prices drop during coronavirus pandemic | UK News

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Farmers have struggled to cover costs as wool prices plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shepherd Stuart Fletcher was forced to dump his crop on compost after the price of wool fell by 50%.

Mr Fletcher, who runs a farm in East Sussex, said it would cost more in fuel to transport the wool to the depot than it would gain from selling the fleeces.

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Stuart Fletcher had to throw his harvest on compost

“The financial implications were so bad I just put it on the mud heap,” he said.

It seems to be a growing problem around the world.

“It’s not just me doing this, or the farmers in the UK,” said Fletcher.

“I’ve been approached by farmers in South Africa and Canada who just don’t know what to do with their wool. It is happening everywhere. ”

Most farmers sell their fleeces through British Wool, formerly known as the British Wool Marketing Board.

“We understand the frustration farmers are feeling this year. The cost of shearing sheep can range from £ 1.25 to £ 1.50 per animal, ”said Andrew Hogley, acting managing director of British Wool.

“The value of the wool absolutely does not cover these costs at the moment. I would always encourage farmers to send in their wool. We want to make sure that there is a market for their product when the crisis is over. ”

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Wool prices have fallen amid the pandemic

British Wool said its industry is heavily dependent on reviving the hospitality sector.

“We are really dependent on sectors of the economy that need to recover, such as the hospitality industry: restaurants, hotels, airlines,” Hogley said.

“The impact of the pandemic has not left them able to renovate their premises at the moment, and a lot of British wool is entering the contract carpets. ”

Contrary to the trend of selling fleeces, The Gray Sheep Co in Hampshire is turning their wool into colorful British knitting yarn, but they believe the industry is shrinking fast.

Gray Sheep Co in Hampshire turns wool into knitting yarn
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Gray Sheep Co in Hampshire turns wool into knitting yarn

“Since the decline of wool, industries that support production, such as dyeing and combing houses, have all gone out of business,” said founder Emma Boyles.

“It was a difficult year. We normally promote products at trade shows in Europe – but this has not been possible.

“The industry is changing and we need to become entrepreneurs rather than expecting what we produce to have a market. ”

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