Business throughout the length and breadth of the UK and the world has been affected by coronavirus and wool is no different, with the lockdown in China having a huge impact on all sales in Bradford since the start of the year.

Turning such sales around is a challenge and one that is likely to prove difficult to overcome for a good number of months, but Dumfries-shire sheep and cattle farmer, Jim Robertson, is certainly up for the job, as Scotland’s first chairman of British Wool.

“The current Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented and a challenging time for us all,” said Jim. “Wool sales have been tricky since the start of the year and are likely to remain so until China opens up again.

“There is a lot of last season’s wool that has still to be sold but we are hopeful things will settle down soon and trade opens up. Until the end of last year, sales were on a par with the previous year.”

During his three-year term, Jim aims not only to retain the current membership of British Wool, but increase market share, which he believed will be easier since the board introduced an on-line bidding system two months ago, thereby attracting a worldwide audience of potential bidders.

He is also confident of more product to sell as sheep have kept their wool better following two mild winters and springs. “Selling through British Wool is the best and fairest way for everyone as the board accepts and grades all types and quality of wool.

“We’re also looking into different ways of how to use wool, with an increasing number of people now seeing wool as a sustainable product. Our long-term focus remains, as is always the case, to maximize the returns individuals receive for their wool.”

Mr Robertson farms in excess of 1700 LFA acres at The Becks, Langholm, running a flock of 950 South Country Cheviots and 50 Texels, along with 100 Galloway cows.

In the past few years, Jim has also bought Whitebred Shorthorn bulls and sells both Blue-grey and Galloway heifers and steers. He breeds all his own female replacements, both sheep and cattle, and sells pedigree Cheviot rams at the annual SCC sale at Lockerbie, in October.

Richard Cottrill, a landowner and tenant sheep farmer from Derbyshire, has become the board’s vice-chairman.

Richard and his family run 2000-plus ewes and 60 suckler cows over 7500 acres in the Derbyshire Peak Districe. As a traditional farmer, he is passionate and committed to the industry.