Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Departmental Priorities

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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363. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department accepts the recommendations of the Wool Feasibility Study; the progress made implementing any accepted recommendations; the projected timelines to achieve such, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12100/23]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy may be aware, the Wool Feasibility Study report, published in July 2022, contains a number of recommendations aimed at establishing Irish grown wool as a sustainable and progressive sector.

The primary recommendation is the establishment of an independent Irish Grown Wool Council led by industry which would develop and promote Irish wool domestically and internationally and bring together multiple stakeholders to foster collaboration, innovation and scaling activities in the wool sector. The report outlines the following short-term and long-term objectives for the Wool Council to consider;

Short Term

- Brand development for Irish Grown Wool

- Marketing of Irish Grown Wool

- Standards development for Irish Grown Wool

- Determining feasibility of establishing a wool testing facility on the Island of Ireland

- Establishment of a Wool Hub

- Establishment of a Research and Innovation Cluster as a contact point for R&D as well as driving an R, D&I wool agenda.

Areas for research include;

- Composting and pelleting in the horticulture sector

- Insulation and cement in the construction sector

- Packaging

- Filled products such as bedding and mattresses

- Textiles and fashion

- Composites

- Medical devices / biotechnology

- Cosmetics / healthcare products

- Implementing training on improving wool handling, presentation and sorting at farm level, wool grading.

- Creation of an apprenticeship model for the wool sector

- Gather data on Irish grown wool

- Prepare a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Irish Grown Wool

Medium to Long Term:

- Determine feasibility for scouring plant development

- Determine feasibility for wool testing facility

- Establish wool co-operatives

- Implement educational programs to promote Irish Grown Wool

- Determine potential to re-classify wool in terms of its animal by-product status

- Incentivise use of natural fibre products.

The establishment of the Wool Council is still in train, with an initial meeting of stakeholders interested in forming the Wool Council taking place in December 2022. At that meeting a working group was established to take the next steps towards formally establishing the Wool Council.

I understand that the next meeting of the Wool Council stakeholder group is set to take place in the coming weeks where the draft Terms of Reference will be presented and nominations for Council Officers will be sought. I am making available €30,000 by way of seed funding to support the commencement of the work of the Council when established.

It is my view, that the establishment of the Council is a vital step that will lead to new opportunities and greater returns for this natural sustainable product.


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