Leading law firm Thursfields Solicitors is backing a national campaign to persuade the Government to make better use of British wool.
The National Sheep Association, which is based in Malvern, is promoting a petition which would make it mandatory to use British wool products in the New Home Insulation Scheme and for insulation and carpeting in publicly-financed building projects.
Jon Clifford, director of agriculture and rural affairs at Thursfields, said: “Wool is currently almost a by-product for sheep farmers. At present, sheep farmers receive less for a fleece than the cost of shearing the sheep.
“After paying to have their sheep sheared, some farmers are simply ploughing the fleeces into the soil as fertiliser.”
Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said: “Sheep farmers’ incomes are being squeezed at every point. From 1 January 2021, sheep farmers may be further affected by possible new tariffs on sheep meat of at least 40 per cent.
“Currently, more than half our sheep exports go to the EU and this will never be substituted by trade deals with the USA or Japan, for example.”
He pointed out that wool is sustainable, fire-retardant, bio-degradable and the most efficient form of insulation.
“Here is a perfect example of a ready-made supply for a ready-made market, and an easy win for both the Government and sheep farmers alike.”
The proposal already has the support of the Welsh government and now campaigners are calling on the English, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments to follow suit.
By the middle of September, the petition had already been signed by over 28,000 people. To find out more and sign the petition, see here.
As well as the National Sheep Association, the campaign has also been endorsed by NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru, Ulster Farmers Union, British Wool (formerly The British Wool Marketing Board) and the Country Landowners’ Association.
It is also supported by The Campaign for Wool, whose patron is HRH The Prince of Wales, who has previously stated: “Wool is a product that the most brilliant boffin in the most hi-tech laboratory could never create….it is important to remind people of how valuable and sustainable wool is as a fibre and as a natural material.”
Jon Clifford said: “This is not a political issue, it is a farming and environmental issue. We need to revive our wool manufacturing industries and help sheep farmers make a decent income from their fleeces.
“It makes perfect sense that the Government should lead the way and insist that publicly-funded buildings are insulated with this home-grown, sustainable product.”
Country Landowners’ Association Midlands Director Mark Riches said: “The wool industry was once a great wealth creator across the region.
“It will not be easy, but given the enthusiasm and entrepreneurialism of the rural sector, I believe it can again contribute to our economic recovery and not be seen as a cost to farmers. This petition could make all the difference if it helps kick-start the recovery by encouraging public sector specification of British Wool products.”