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Talks on native Shetland wool

MP Alistair Carmichael (left) with Ewan Scott, Scottish government, local crofters Pete Glanville and Ronnie Eunson of ShetlandOrganics, and Simon Johnson of the UK government - Photo: Pete Bevington

A WESTMINSTER civil servant spent a few hours on Up Helly Aa day to meet representatives of the wool industry to help resolve concerns about its protected status.

Last year the European Commission granted exclusive use of the term ‘Native Shetland Wool’ to the tiny crofting co-operative ShetlandOrganics, barring the vast majority of the local industry from using the accreditation as a marketing tool.

Crofters contacted local MP Alistair Carmichael to resolve the issue and on Tuesday government policy adviser Simon Johnson arrived in Lerwick to hear local concerns. He was joined by Ewan Scott, from the Scottish government’s food unit.

Local farmer Ronnie Eunson  said: “ShetlandOrganics was encouraged by government officials to apply for a PDO for “Organic Native Shetland Wool”.

“For some inexplicable reason the word ‘Organic’ has been left out of the title. This has led to unnecessary confusion and worry in the industry. The government must sort it out.”

After the meeting Mr Carmichael said: “It was a very useful exercise in allowing all the affected parties the chance to explain their issues to the governments in Edinburgh and London.

“It will now be for them to take that information to obtain protection that suits the interests of all parties.”

One solution will be to amend the protected designation of origin (PDO) accreditation and allow all Shetland producers to use the term, whether their wool is organic or not.