We are facing the worst crisis in sheep farming, said Uruguayan Agriculture Minister Fernando Mattos, who added that the situation is not limited to Uruguay but to all world farmers who produce cross bred wool with a 24 to 26 microns fiber. The new reality are finer wools and we must face it.
Mattos made the comment during a ceremony for the opening of the shearing season in Uruguay, next to wool farmers and with president Luis Lacalle Pou symbolically handing a pair of scissors to a gang of shearers who had previously been in northern Spain exercising their skills.
Mattos continued, we are all expecting the return of China to the wool market, many countries have huge stocks of thick wool and reality is that any wool above 22 microns is extremely difficult to sell, because of the lack of demand
The minister and several members of sheep farming organizations revealed that there are some 40 million kilos, close to two clips of unsold wool (mainly Corriedale, the most common in Uruguay), waiting for buyers, but some farmers have even the wool of five seasons in bags and bales in their depots.
Mattos said he had recently visited China, the leading purchaser of Uruguayan wool and they told us we need to have finer wool, if we are to expect a sustained demand which is currently erratic
The minister promised farmers at the meeting, government would do its utmost to deal with the forty million kilos, of two wool clips from twelve million sheep, but also recalled that Uruguay has excellent genetics, knowhow and technology, plus very experienced farmers capable of targeting flocks more in line with international wool demand.
The head of the Uruguayan Wool Secretariat, SUL, Alfredo Fross pointed out to the long tradition of Uruguay (particularly in the north of the country with basalt terrain) with sheep, both for wool, plus lamb and mutton, and the asset and expertise all this represents, and we must not allow this to go down, because we are also aware of a few cases where farmers have given up...
Fross said Uruguay is a leader in ovine research, genetics, technology, we export all these including qualified labor, so we are not asking for handouts, we need government support to overcome the situation, help us improve competition, more markets, lift some restrictions, ban the admission of plus 26,5 microns wool to the country, and correct some fiscal asymmetries. we must not allow sheep farmers to demoralize.
Sheep farmers took the opportunity to again complain about everyday problems they face such as sheep poaching, predators and feral and abandoned dogs, from small towns that in packs attack the flocks.