Following a call for nominations by Ulster Wool to represent wool producers in Northern Ireland, Brendan Kelly has been returned unopposed as board member for a further three years.

Kelly, who farms in Randalstown, Co. Antrim, was first elected onto the board in 2018 with the new term of office, running until March 31, 2024.

'A challenging 12 months'

Kelly said: “I am delighted to continue to represent the sheep farmers of Northern Ireland on the board and I will work tirelessly to raise the profile of Ulster Wool to help return a better price for our wool through this difficult time.

It has been a challenging 12 months and the continued support of wool producers is vital to ensure that we emerge stronger from the current situation.

"I, therefore, encourage producers to stick with us and send in their 2020 clip if it is still on farm.”

As well as being an active member of the UFU’s Beef and Lamb Committee, Kelly is also a member of the BISCA executive committee and a senior shearing judge as well as an advance shearer in his own right.

Farming in partnership with his two brothers, Kelly runs around 950 breeding ewes, including Mules and Romney, as well as 90 suckler cows on over 600ac of grazing land.

Depot closures

It's been a hard year for the wool industry, with prices through the floor after international wool auctions halted in April 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result, British Wool, Ulster Wool's parent company, was left with around 11 million kilos of unsold wool.

British Wool says it has now made its way through the unsold wool but last week announced it was closing four of its grading depots in Britain - with Irvine, Porthmadog, Stamford and Liskeard all to close.

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"The annual savings from these measures are estimated to be £1.5 million per annum. Based on our current level of wool intake this equates to a saving of 6-7p/kg," Andrew Hogley, acting chief executive of British Wool, explained.

Wool from these areas will be reallocated to other grading depots within British Wool's network.