Northumberland hill farmer Malcolm Corbett has stepped down as chairman of the British Wool Marketing Board and handed over the reins to its first Northern Irish chairman, Ian Buchannan.
Mr Corbett, who farms sheep and cattle in the north of the county, had held the role for four years. He also served as English Northern representative on the board.
Attending his last official event as chairman, he visited the Rheged Centre in Penrith as it hosted a visit for HRH the Prince of Wales.
Mr Corbett said it had been an honour to lead BWMB during a period of relative prosperity in the wool industry and to have helped deliver better wool returns for producers.
“It’s been pleasing to see wool prices become stable at a relatively high level over the last few years,” he said.
“What everyone in the livestock sector needs is stability and the board, through its competitive auction system, has helped ensure better, more stable prices for British wool to the benefit of all producers.
“I urge sheep farmers to continue to support BWMB in the years ahead to help it remain competitive and to maximise the value of their own wool clip.
“British wool consistently achieves the highest wool prices in Europe and that is no coincidence.
“It comes as a result of BWMB offering wool in an organised fashion throughout the year at regular auctions, with every fleece graded and included within an appropriate sale lot.”
Importantly, he added, the board was also active in other parts of the wool supply chain, from shearer training right through to marketing and promotion.
“It is fair to say that British shearers are now some of the best in the world and there is no doubt this is a direct reflection of the quality of training being delivered at BWMB shearing courses the length and breadth of the country,” he said.
“This is something every sheep farmer in the UK benefits from and helps ensure fleeces are delivered to depots in the best possible condition.
“Additionally I am immensely proud of the board’s support for and involvement in the Campaign for Wool (CfW).
“The international profile of the CfW has helped highlight the significant advantages and opportunities wool offers as a fibre in both the fashion and interior design markets and producers should be rightly proud that through BWMB they are helping support such a high profile marketing campaign.”
Mr Corbett said he had greatly enjoyed his time as both a BWMB board member and as chairman, gaining a “huge amount of respect” for the hard work and dedication of everyone at the organisation.
“There is no doubt we’ve had to make some tough decisions in my time on the board, but every member of BWMB staff works hard to ensure producers get the best return for their wool,” he said.
“I would encourage every sheep farmer in the UK to take the time to find out what BWMB does for them and to understand the complexities of the wool supply chain.
“I have no doubt that the board delivers exceptional value for farmers and is immensely valuable to the sheep sector in this country.”
The Wool Board is the largest producer co-operative in Britain, with around 40,000 registered sheep farmers, bringing together a wide range of skills.
Following recent elections, Mr Corbett’s former role as English Northern representative has now been filled by Carl Stephenson, who farms 400 acres of Severely Disadvantaged land in Teesdale, Durham, running Limousin and Beef Shorthorn suckler cows along with Swaledale ewes, bred pure and crossed, Bluefaced Leicesters and North of England Mule Ewes.