Government needs to show ambition in developing a woollen industry says INHFA

The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) have called for a significant increase in support for the Irish Grown Wool Council which was formally established last April.

Speaking on this INHFA National Chair Pheilim Molloy outlined how the current funding of €30,000 towards the Council is totally inadequate and detailed the need for funding of “up to €1m to support, research and develop the necessary infrastructure to drive the industry on.”

In developing a future for the woollen industry it is he stated “vital that we recognise the enormous potential there is for natural products such as wool, especially in the textile and garment (fashion) industry as the need for a viable alternative to synthetic fibres increases.”

With environmental concerns and especially climate change dominating debate and actions at a global level, all industries will, Molloy maintains, have to re-evaluate their carbon emissions. Currently the textile and garment sector are, he stated “contributing close to 10% of global carbon emissions while also adding to the growing levels of microplastics.”

These emissions are, he added “seen through the entire life-cycle of the garment from production through to disposal and while there is a recognition around the need to address this, progress is very slow.”

As the Cabinet moves to finalise the 2024 budget, Molloy stressed “how the Government needs to show greater ambition in developing a woollen industry, recognise the enormous potential that such an industry can provide and our call for increased funding should be viewed in this context.”

Beyond the call for increased funding Molloy also outlined how we could explore the possibility of a levy on synthetic fibres. This he stated “could be ring-fenced to support the development of natural wool based alternatives and clearly such a levy would have to be across all EU Member States.”

While such a levy may seem radical the INHFA leader pointed to similar levies across many sectors including energy and agriculture and detailed how “all sectors of the global economy will be required to make the necessary contributions in order to meet the challenges posed by climate change.”

In concluding Molloy reiterated the need for ambitious thinking that, he stated “views wool as the essential raw material in the global fashion industry where farmers are properly paid for this vital product.”