NSA and British Wool
NSA enjoys a special working relationship with British Wool, the only statutory commodity/marketing board remaining in the UK. It is estimated that half of all wool produced in the UK would not have a customer without the service that British Wool provides, because that wool is produced in isolated areas and/or in such small quantities that it would not be purchased by a commercial company. Established over many years, the nationwide network of depots ran by British Wool would never be commercially viable to set up from scratch today and, as such, is something that needs preserving for the good of the UK sheep sector. NSA believes there is huge value in the work British Wool does to collect, grade and add value to wool, and encourages its members to send their annual clip to British Wool to sell on their behalf.
Shearing sheep is essential for animal welfare, as removing fleeces at least once a year prevents heat stress and problems caused by external parasites such as flies. Shearing is a highly skilled practice and NSA proudly supports the industry guidelines for shearers and farmers, produced by a number of farming organisations including NSA and British Wool – see www.nationalsheep.org.uk/policy-work. British Wool provides invaluable, world class training for shearers and wool handers, from beginners to experts, and this is another reason why NSA encourages farmers in the UK to support the work of British Wool.
As well as the essential commercial need for shearing, the UK has a well-established network of shearing competitions, speed-shearing competitions, shearing record attempts and ‘shear-athons’. These have an important role in rural communities, providing an opportunity for competitors to showcase and hone their skills, contributing to social events in the countryside and often raising money for worthy causes. NSA recognised the role of the British Isles Shearing Competitions Association (BISCA) in providing a structure for shearing competitions, and supports the high standards to which all shearing competitions and challenges are run, with competitions being skilled professionals with animal welfare as their priority at all times.