Monday, 23 May 2011

Market, imperfect

We've been fleeced

No-one has died. It is just the fleece from Phoenix the ram. 3kg of the grubbiest wool you ever saw.

Quim the shepherd sheared Phoenix and Thistle on Friday. I asked what he does with his wool – he has 20 sheep, a retirement flock after spending his life walking the hills around here with 150. He buries it, as compost.

Years ago the shepherds here made good money from their fleeces, sold to dozens of weavers here and in the area around Terrassa. Now there is only one purchaser of wool for weaving and he only buys the best wool, by the lorry load. No demand for my 3kg of wool, nor for Quim’s 60kg, and the same is true of the Spanish state, where exports of wool have fallen year by year in the last three years, from US$30m in 2007 to US$11m in 2009 (source I will probably do the same as Quim and bury my fleece for compost.

The fleece is part of the spring glut. At the Croft we have trees full of cherries, a garden full of lettuce (there are only so many lettuces that one can eat) and we will soon have too many figs, hazelnuts and walnuts. Meanwhile, my friends at Oxfam and at MSF struggle to feed millions of people in the global South.

The market is imperfect. No wonder that people are Indignant.

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