Small wool merchants pressured by new rules

The Irish Government must work to safeguard the future of small wool merchants, according to Mairead McGuinness, MEP.

Speaking yesterday (Wednesday 9 June), Ms McGuinness said the government should take advantage of the window of opportunity between now and March when new regulations on animal by-products come into effect.

Ms McGuinness was speaking following written confirmation from EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, saying that “the appropriate safeguards for the handling of wool will be reflected upon further”.

Small wool merchants had recently expressed fears that EU rules on the storage of wool will force many of them out of the business.

The Commissioner was responding to a question from Ms McGuinness asking whether existing regulations on the collection, transportation and storage of Category 3 animal by-products, under which wool is classified, are not disproportionate to the risk that these products represent.

“Good regulation is essential to protect health,” she said. “However, the EU must be careful to ensure that compliance requirements do not disadvantage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in favour of large mechanised operators who, in contrast, can withstand the capital investment needed in facilities.

“The Minister for Agriculture now needs to use the opportunity to put the case of small wool operators. And he must ensure full flexibility within regulations is used to match the needs of the Irish market.

“All too often it is the administrative rules adopted by Ireland that create the difficulty for SMEs,” she said.