It will come as no surprise to some people that the price of wool in the UK has plummeted to the worst prices ever.
Last year was bad enough. When we sheared our sheep, the shearer took the fleeces and gave us a discount on shearing for the swap. This year, even the shearer didn’t want it.
I’ve seen farmers offering it for free to crafters and I used most of ours in the garden to deter slugs.
Covid is being blamed for the low prices because a lot of British wool used to be exported to the Far East but I can’t help but think that Covid is being used as an excuse for a lot of things that are simply broken.
At one time, all sheep farmers sold their wool to the British Wool Marketing board but, like us, people got fed up of receiving next to nothing for the fleeces that not only wouldn’t cover the cost of shearing but also the cost of fuel to deliver the fleece to the nearest wool collection point.
Now there is the argument that if everyone continues to bypass the Marketing Board then this could drive down the price even more because by trying to sell wool to other wool merchants, you would be taking another bidding customer away from the Wool Board. Some farmers are still sending to the Board because they are well aware of what happened to the Milk Marketing Board which disbanded in the early 90s. So are staying loyal with their wool in the hope that things will pick up and the Wool Marketing Board will one day be able to pay a better price.
I understand both arguments and I honestly think it is up to the individual farmers to decide what is best for them.
As a nation though, we all need to be making use of this wonderful, breathable, natural product but is simply isn’t fashionable.
In the crazy world of celebrity, it only takes one influencer to be photographed wearing or doing something and people’s heads turn.
Thankfully, Olympic star Tom Daley has been photographed prolifically knitting and crocheting and the farming world is rejoicing.
Even the British Wool Marketing Board is using him as a shining example of someone putting a value on wool.
Could this be the beginning of Wool’s return to glory? I really, really hope so.
I find knitting and crochet so important for my mental health. The repetition involved and the pleasure of making something from scratch is very important to me. It is also really easy to learn.
Well done Tom Daley, hopefully the nation will reconnect with wool and save the industry from ruin.
If you liked this post, why not check out Why Sheep Get Sheared