By Farmers Weekly staff

WOOL cheques will be significantly lower this year and many hill farmers may not cover their shearing costs, warns British Wool Marketing Board managing director, Ian Hartley.

Global demand and prices have dropped, mainly because of reduced consumption in the Far East and China, he told Farmers Union of Wales representatives this week.

But the position of British wool has been undermined further by the strong Pound and fierce competition from imports, especially from New Zealand which has seen a considerable depreciation of its currency, said Mr Hartley.

The average wool cheque could fall 40% below last seasons 60-65p/kg, but for many hill farmers it will be worse, he explained. “In a market where good white wools from the southern hemisphere are available very cheaply, we have just not been able to sell less versatile coloured wools.”

The board will make a token payment for every grade while it continues to seek outlets. With 3 million kilograms more wool in this years clip, there will be stock left at the end of the selling season, he added.