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Young farmer focus: Phillipa Gray - "A change in attitudes could mean wool is on the verge of a comeback."

Philippa Gray, 23, grew up on a small family farm in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and works as the fundraiser for Innovation for Agriculture.

Background

 

I grew up on a small family farm in West Yorkshire. While the main flock is Texels, all other livestock is either a native or rare breed, which we sell finished to local farm shops.

 

I studied agriculture with animal science at Harper Adams University and I am in the last few months of an MSc in agricultural science and production systems. I now work as the fundraiser for Innovation for Agriculture.


Agricultural shows

 

I have been breeding pedigree Ryeland sheep for the past eight years and spend most of my summer travelling around the country competing and judging at agricultural shows.

 

The necessary cancellation of shows this year was a huge shame, but new online shows have helped the agricultural community keep in touch and provided some good window shopping opportunities before the autumn pedigree livestock sales.

 

Through my work at Innovation for Agriculture, I was heavily involved in the organisation of The Greatest Online Agricultural Show, which received fantastic support from farmers and raised £20,000 for farming charities.


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Wool

 

It was through my work with Ryeland sheep that my interest in wool started.

 

The wool industry has had a tough time this year, with the effects of Covid-19 having a huge effect on the price.

 

I urge people to continue supporting the British Wool Marketing Board, which works hard to promote the use of wool and get the best price it can for the farmers.

 

The rise in synthetic fibres has been the long-term driving factor behind low wool prices, but people are starting to realise that wool has many benefits over man-made fibres, such as polyester.

 

While wool does not get much national press coverage, environmental sustainability and the issue of plastics certainly do.

 

With 35 per cent of ocean microplastics coming from synthetic textiles and growing concerns over fibreglass use, large manufacturers in the fashion and housing industries are working to become more environmentally friendly to appeal to customers.

 

A change in attitude to wool from just these two industries could mean that wool is on the verge of a comeback.

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