Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

New wool guidelines are baa-rmy!

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

If you wanted to illustrate the daftness of some of the rules and regulations governing farming then look no further than the wool trade.

New guidelines on the handling and storage of wool will drive some merchants out of business and many others to distraction.

At risk of being flippant, you'd have to say the new guidelines appear barmy.

One of the contenders for 'daftest regulation of the year' award must be the requirement that wool is now labelled as a Category 3 product and, as such, "is not fit for human consumption".

Sean Moriarty, manager of Comharchumann Uan Chiarrai in Lispole, Co Kerry, has been buying wool for half a lifetime but he is still struggling to make sense of that particular diktat.

"In the past, fellas have threatened to burn wool and even to dump it prices were that bad, but no fella yet has threatened to eat it."

Another gem is the requirement that those handling wool must wear a mask, gloves and overalls.

"You'd think it was some kind of explosive," Sean said wryly.

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It has also been suggested that trucks collecting wool will have to be registered with the Department of Agriculture.

The serious side of the new regime is the demand for investment in storage facilities.

Stores will now require effluent holding tanks which allow them to be washed down and the waters held, in the event of a disease outbreak.

Putting these facilities in place may not be an option for many small merchants. Wool is a low-margin business and ploughing big money into stores does not make financial sense.

This is particularly the case in the west and southwest where the merchants tend to be small, local operations.

While most merchants would accept the demand that wool and feed be stored separately, some of the rules being imposed are just off the wall.

The phrase 'woolly headed' springs to mind.

Irish Independent

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