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30 May 2022
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Wool Street Journal
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Farm Maintenance
Wool
Organic

Jamie Mackay discussed the current state of the wool market with Grant Edwards, GM of Wool at PGG Wrightson.

While the war in Ukraine has potential to impact the market, the bigger issue is lock-downs in China. Grant is particularly concerned about the lock-down of Shanghai, arguably the major port in the world. Stopping the movement of goods through China has a significant effect as a lot of New Zealand wool goes to China - especially wools with more yellow in them.

Jamie turned the discussion to rising shearing rates and the heavy financial impact this has on farmers.   Shearers undoubtedly work hard.  But rising rates have the potential to make harvesting of wool less economic.

Grant agrees but also points out the difficulty of retaining shearing staff in a tight labour market.  He emphasised the need to invest in training for what is a specialised skill - and to pay shearers accordingly. Jamie raised the hot button issue of altering sheep genetics, more specifically moving flocks to be self-shedding.  He admits it would be tempting at the moment.  But if the wool market recovers, it would take a long time to turn it around.

Grant agrees there are issues 'round this.  Especially going from a base Romney flock which has sometimes been nurtured through generations.

Care needs to be taken that any changes are not knee-jerk.  It can take between five and eight years to make those genetic changes and they can be significant.  You don't get back out of them in a hurry.  Sheep farmers need to understand what that means for the constitution of their animals.

Things like facial eczema and a whole lot of other factors.

Grant's best advice is to be pragmatic and do your due diligence.  The future of wool is still bright - but it will take some time.

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