Regional delegates sat in stunned silence at the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) annual conference in Edinburgh on Wednesday as officials explained that next year's wool cheque would be one-third less than predicted.
Chairman Malcolm Corbett explained: "In July New Zealand prices fell by 20%-45% below the level of last year – and even though we have reduced prices, trade is sluggish and the producer price this year will be well below last year."
He added: "After under-estimating prices in the last two years we've been guilty of being too optimistic with our predictions for 2013."
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The Board had predicted the average price they would pay next year for this year's clip would be roughly the same as this year's wool cheque – about 120p per kg.
The revised prediction for next year's payout is down one-third at an average of 80p per kg. That could leave those who delivered Blackface wool getting a wool cheque for less than 60p.
Following a run of successful sales last year, the Board set high reserves that left them with about five million kilogrammes of unsold wool from the 2010 clip. Any hope of selling that stockpile at enhanced prices was dashed when the demand for wool collapsed as the 2012 round of fortnightly auctions began.
BWMB chief executive Ian Hartley said: "If prices remain as they are until the end of the season, the final average price for producers next year will be about 80p per kg. It's difficult to forecast prices at this stage and we will have a better idea in January after we have sold half of the clip."
Scottish producers who stuck with rival Irish buyer Texacloth in spite of the optimistic and very attractive price predictions from the BWMB may find that they have ended up better off. Texacloth paid them between 90p and 95p per kg for their Mule, Halfbred and Cheviot wool, while Blackface wool producers got 80p.
Aiden Walsh, of Texacloth, told The Herald: "Our producers ended up slightly better off sticking with us and already have their money in the bank."
The Cumberland & Dumfriesshire Farmers' Mart had 26 prime cattle forward in Dumfries on Wednesday when bullocks averaged 202.7p per kg and heifers levelled at 202.6p.
The 91 OTM cattle presented in the rough ring saw beef cows average 123.2p and dairy cows level at 92.6p.
In the sheep ring, 1536 prime lambs sold to £87.50 per head and 199p per kg to average 164.4p.
There were also 437 cast sheep forward with heavy ewes selling to £84.50 for Texels and averaging £57.04, while light ewes peaked at £58.50 for Lleyns and levelled at £33.35.