SIR, – In reply to Angus MacDonald's rant about the British Wool Board in your August 28 issue.

I’ll just say, Angus, I get it the price of wool is terrible – in fact, I get it regularly. As the farming representative from Durham on the board, going to the mart is a bit like walking around with a target on my back although I must say it usually takes the form of harmless banter, owing no doubt to the current high prices for all kinds of stock, and a general feeling of wellbeing.

For the ones who can couple that with a supposedly better deal, with others of whom they seem to know very little, they come across as less angry farmers, and more wolf of wall street!

At the moment it's a difficult position to defend, so far no one has actually said it, but I suspect they think I’m 'crackers'. Like Angus, some call for an end to 'The Board' but have they thought this through? Would removing the biggest handler of UK wool help.

I use that term because it doesn't, in effect, buy it. It takes it, grades it, sorts it into lots and sells at regular auctions for the best possible price, which currently isn't much due to world conditions, then send you the money. But not I hasten to add, the lack of it, contradicting popular belief, nobody got a bill, small mercies indeed.

I can assure you, however, the rest of the world generally fared worse and I take my hat off to the Wool Board management, who dealt with an extremely difficult situation by dramatically cutting costs and balancing a precarious market by withholding stock from auction, whilst at the same time being aware that storing wool is so expensive.

By the spring, it had quite miraculously cleared the decks ready for a fresh start.

Without the board what then? At the mercy of a handful of buyers?

Some years ago. in the midst of a lamb price crash, meetings were held across the country to consider action to be taken, amongst much hot air and impassioned rhetoric it was thought the best thing, was to set up a body that could regulate supply and fight the dark forces that seemed set on the destruction of the sheep industry, sound familiar?

Nothing happened. British farmers, as a rule, don't 'do' co-operatives.

The Wool Board is, however, the exception. Sure it has costs, how could it not? These include training the next generation of shearers, graders and those wool bags that quite often are used to transport wool to other places, not to mention fighting those 'Dark Forces' who seem to get ever more virulent. Would others take on that expense – I suspect not.

Basically, I support the board because the alternatives are bleak, those handful of buyers won't suddenly 'see the light' and start paying over the odds, they definitely won't take all the wool, just the choice bits, but they most definitely will take as much money as they can get out of it.

I hope and believe things will improve. It may never again 'pay the rent' but who knows, stranger things have happened, no one knows what the future holds.

Looking back, it's easy to see where the problem began – the rise of synthetics and the relative cheapness of crude oil, combined with sweatshop labour and the 'worn once culture' was crucial.

I read a report recently which claimed at this moment, there were already enough clothes in the world to cater for the next eight generations of humankind. Very little, I think, would have been made using wool.

So, to sum up Angus, I would ask you to heed the words of my late granny Lumley, who said many things but amongst them being that disappointment is good for youth, never place your trust in banks or politicians, and most pertinent to this article, be careful what you wish for.

At the time we all thought granny was a bit crackers!

Denis Lumley

Durham Wool Board rep.