Some sheep farmers are burning or composting their wool this year as a result of the collapse in the market due to Covid-19.

With prices as low as 15p per kg, some breeds struggling to yield a kg of wool per head, and in some cases farmers having to pay for transportation to depots, wool is effectively worth nothing and in most instances, is costing producers.

Wool buyers argue that they are, nevertheless, offering the best price possible in the current market.

Alan Walsh, managing director of Scottish wool buying firm, Brannach Olann, said he was able to give a better than average price with some producers receiving up to 85p per kg this season.

“If the Covid-19 crisis hadn’t happened, then we would have had more than half of our customers on the 20p premium over and above the normal price for wool. However, as it is, 20% of our farmers are on last season’s price, which is brilliant when the price of wool has crashed,” Alan said.

When it came to transportation, Alan added that producers had the option to either deliver wool to their depots, or they can arrange a haulier to collect it, with charges varying on quantity of wool and distance travelled.

In contrast, British Wool produce marketing manager, Gareth Jones, explained the measures they are taking to try to support British farmers this year.

“We fully understand and share producers’ disappointment and frustration with regards to this year’s wool prices, but this is down to the impact Covid-19 has had on global markets.”

He added that the board has had to store 7m kg of unsold stock from the 2019 season, which is a significant loss to last year’s crop. As a result, the average price paid to producers for the 2019 clip will be 32p per kg.

“In light of the huge and unprecedented valuation uncertainty in the market, and wishing to remain on a safe and sound financial footing, we will not be making an advance against 2020 clip wool and instead will make full payment for 2020 clips from May, 2021, onwards,” he added.

Delving in to the figures over the past couple of years, the average price across all wool types in 2018 sat at 60p per kg compared to 32p per kg, in 2019. In the hill breeds, last year’s averages fell to 23p per kg for Blackface wool and 46p per kg for Cheviots, compared to that of the average Bluefaced Leicester price, which was set at 230p per kg.

With this in mind, the Wool Board has promised that farmers will receive, in hand, their balance payment from their 2019 wool – depending on the type of wool they have – and the average payment to producers in Scotland will be 20p per kg, with the transport charge typically being 6p per kg.

“In terms of the 2020 season, we will be paying the full value of the 2020 clip in one payment from May, 2021, and at this time we don’t know what this value will be due to the uncertainty in the market.

“However, by sending their wool to British Wool, producers are giving the opportunity for the market to hopefully improve in the coming 12 months,” he added.