A LEADING sheep farmer and member of the co-operative British Wool Marketing Board has urged producers to stay loyal to the board rather than selling their fleeces to outside buyers.
The South West's representative, Brian Dallyn, from North Devon, spoke out as buyers, some from Ireland, are approaching farmers in the region trying to build up wool supplies.
The message was passed on during an open day in South Molton, which was viewed by more than 150 sheep farmers and visitors from across the South West.
At the BWMB depot on the Pathfields Industrial Estate they saw fleeces and wool processing demonstrations and were able to discuss world markets and prices with the board's senior members.
"We're hearing that other people are in the area trying to buy (wool) from local farmers. We know processors have been approached.
"This is the last remaining farmers co-operative and it's important that the board is retained," said Mr Dallyn, of Killington Farm, near Parracombe.
"It's an organisation run by farmers and that's the message we've stressed (during the open day). We give a service that we can guarantee they will make a true market value at auction. Every fleece is graded individually."
The wool market has seen a turn for the better with average prices running at around £1.70 per kilo with average weights at between two and three kilos.
"The open day was a very good exercise. We were delighted with the turnout," said Mr Dallyn.
"We had a wider audience and this was the most we've ever had.
"They were interested in prices but also the process after the fleece goes on the table, what the graders are looking for and how the fleece is handled in the depot."
The board has sold virtually all last season's wool, with the final auction due next month.
"After that it will be the new season wool and we're expecting prices to firm up. That's the indication so far," said Mr Dallyn.
He said the improvement in prices is down to the world market with Chinese buyers interested in finer wool for upholstery, bedding and apparel.