New wool scheme launched for first time sheep farmers

Next Generation wool producers visit Ulster Wool grading depot
Next Generation wool producers visit Ulster Wool grading depot

Ulster Wool has introduced a new scheme designed to support flockowners who have recently entered the industry.

Launching for the 2018 season, the scheme will see eligible producers receive 100% of their clip value as an upfront payment for their first two years, along with a priority wool in-take and grading service through Ulster Wool’s depot network.

Producers will then transition on to the standard payment scheme over the next three years by way of adjusted balancing payments so that, over the life of the five year scheme, new entrants receive the same cash as they would have done had they been on the standard payment scheme throughout that period.

Eligible new entrants will receive their wool payments as follows:

o Year 1 – the advance payment will be set to 100% of the prior year’s clip value.

o Year 2 – the advance payment will be set to 100% of the prior year’s clip value plus/minus any balance from the previous year.

o Year 3 – the advance payment will be set to 75% of the prior year’s clip value plus/minus any balance from the previous year.

o Year 4 – the advance payment will be set to 50% of the prior year’s clip value plus/minus any balance from the previous year.

o Year 5 onwards – payments will be in line with all other Ulster Wool registered producers.

Joe Farren, CEO of Ulster Wool, said: “Investing in the future of the industry is an essential part of our strategy, and we want to play a key role in encouraging young farmers into the industry. Any start up business requires support to be successful, so increased up-front payments during the first two years will help ease the pressure on cash flow.

“Through this initiative we hope to appeal to young farmers’ to market their wool through us, and thus safeguard the long term future of Ulster Wool for the benefit of all our members. Eligible producers will be paid exactly the same prices as all our producers. This is purely an early years’ cash flow support scheme.”

Ulster Wool works on behalf of producers to maximise the value of their wool, adding value through downstream product marketing, new wool product development working with manufacturing partners, the regular auctions, the wool grading and processing and the efficient collection and drop service through the national depot network.

In order to be eligible for the scheme a producer must not have previously been registered with Ulster Wool and have kept sheep for fewer than five years. Full details of the scheme and an application contact Ulster Wool on 02894 462131 or mail@ulsterwool.com.

Sheep numbers are on the rise in Northern Ireland. According to the latest census results, the number of breeding ewes was 2 per cent higher at June 2017 compared with the previous year. The number of spring lambs on farms in June 2017 was one per cent higher than 2016.

At June 2017, total sheep numbers amounted to just over two million head. In 2011, the equivalent number was 1.9 million head.

The growth is sheep output has been attributed to the changes in the support measures made available under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the fact that sheep complement a part-time farming enterprise and the availability of improved lamb prices over the last number of years.