Sheep farmers in Wales boosted by wool prices

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Media captionDemand from China has helped push up the price of wool

The price sheep farmers in Wales get for their wool has more than tripled over the last five years.

The British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) said a shortage of fleeces coupled with strong demand from China had lead to an upturn in prices.

Some 35% of wool sold by the BWMB is now exported to China, double the percentage two years ago.

The price hike is seen as a welcome boost for sheep farms in Wales.

Gareth Jones from the BWMB told BBC Wales: "In 2008 farmers in Wales would have been getting around 33p a kilo for their wool - in the current strong market we're seeing prices at £1.08.

"We estimate the prices will continue to rise for the remainder of the selling season."

He said it was a matter simply of "supply and demand - we have limited supply and very strong demand".

"If you look at the wool intake, we're down 10% on where we were last year," he said.

"The wool is lighter because of the dry, warm weather this summer, but also we unfortunately received losses of sheep in north Wales this spring after the heavy snow there. That has also had an effect."

The price rise has been welcomed by farmers.

'Feel good' factor

Glasnant Morgan, who has around 1,050 sheep on his land near Talybont on Usk near Brecon, Powys, said: "Years ago, the wool cheque would have covered the rent of the farm. Sadly it doesn't do that anymore.

"But the feel good factor is back - we're looking forward to having the balance of next year's cheque, when this year's price rise will come into play."

Wool producers have also reported greater demand for woollen goods.

In 2012 Melin Tregwynt woollen mill near Fishguard celebrated its centenary.

One of the company's managers, Eifion Griffiths said: "Higher wool prices do pose difficulties but we've been very lucky.

"Because of an increase in the demand for our products we've had to increase production, and that means we've been able to absorb the higher cost of wool.

"We've bought new looms, taken on more staff and are making more products".

Mr Griffiths suggested the Campaign for Real Wool, launched in 2010 by the Prince of Wales, was responsible in part for the increased interest in woollen goods.

"It's encouraged people to appreciate wool," he said. "It's ecologically good, it's sustainable".

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