14 September 2001

Wool marketing board feeling effects of F&M

FOOT-and-mouth has devastated the activities of the British Wool Marketing Board this year, leading to a drop of between 15% and 20% in exports, says its managing director Ian Hartley.

"Before the outbreak we were looking forward to a good year. Costs were down, our depot structure was about right and, for the first time in 10 years, there was no stockpile on the world wool market."

However, the boards operations were severely affected by the total ban on livestock movements that led to the closure of it grading depots on Feb 14.

Collected wool had to be stored for two months to prevent the transmission of F&M and this has led to an increase in the value of wool stocks by £1.5m and contributed to a reduction in liquid cash resources of almost £3m.

Mr Hartley says further restructuring is required. "Up to 50% of permanent staff in our depots will be shed and within a few years. I anticipate only 12 of the current 17 depots will still be operating.

"It is going to take a lot of effort to get our markets back and if the disease isnt cleared up soon and we lose significantly more than 20% of our exports, the board will be under a lot of pressure." &#42