British Wool has been awarded the contract to handle wool produced on the Isle of man by the island’s government.

The farming organisation that works on behalf of wool producers said the Isle of Man produces approximately 120t of wool each year and, over the last couple of years, the farmers have experienced challenges in selling their wool at a fair price.

Chief executive of British Wool, Andrew Hogley, said the organisation is delighted that the Isle of Man government has awarded it this contract.

“We look forward to delivering the same high level of service to sheep farmers on the island that we provide to our members here in the UK,” he said.

“We are aware of the challenges they have faced in recent years and look forward to welcoming the Manx farmers to the collective marketing scheme.

“This partnership will provide benefits to farmers both on the island and in the UK.  Sheep farmers on the island will have access to British Wool’s grading system, shearing training and auction helping them to maximise the value of their wool.”

Hogley said UK farmers will also benefit from more wool being put through the British Wool infrastructure.

“The more wool British Wool can handle the more cost effective and efficient an organisation we become thus helping us to maximise returns for our members,” he said.

A ‘really positive move’

The Isle of Man’s Minister for environment, food and agriculture, Clare Barber, said awarding British Wool the contract was a “really positive move” for Manx farmers and the wool produced on the island each year.

“We are delighted to work with British Wool to ensure our farmers have an efficient route to market and receive a fair price for their hard work,” she said.

“I hope this will help rectify some of the frustrations and concerns that some farmers have experienced in recent years.”

General secretary from the Isle of Man branch of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Sarah Comish, said: “The Manx NFU challenged the Isle of Man government over the failure of the 2021 wool contract causing loss to farms.

“It is good news that our DEFA Minister agreed to address the situation, and that British Wool has now accepted the contract to manage Wool Control on the Isle of Man.

“British Wool as a co-operative are well established and have an excellent reputation, and we hope that their association with the Isle of Man will bring better recognition for the value of Manx wool as a high quality, environmentally sustainable product.”

Comish said the addition of training opportunities is an investment in skills that are needed to ensure futureproofing in the wool industry.