New Zealand sheep farmers have narrowly turned down the chance for a Wool Commodity Levy, with the final results to be announced tomorrow.
“Whilst we are disappointed in the result, we are pleased with the voter turn out of 47%, which was larger the Local Government Elections last year,” said Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair.
“The results were close with the wool grower vote coming in at 43.2% for and 56.8% against, and the weighted stock number vote coming in at 40.29% for and 59.71% against.
“This tells us that there is still a strong desire for an industry good body to represent wool growers, especially from the smaller sheep farmers. At the moment their only non-commercial representative is Federated Farmers, which represents six other industry groups, whilst other industries tend to have more than one representative.
“The wool industry is nearly split down the middle on this, and I know a lot of farmers will be disappointed with this result.
“The next question is how we proceed to promote and grow the industry without an independent, internationally recognised, non-commercial voice. Without a levy, our $700 million dollar industry will more than likely continue to sit at this level operating as purely commercial, rather than choosing to organise itself.
“However, the huge positive from this is the level of engagement from the industry, and knowing that there is an appetite for a conversation here on where to next with the industry.
“New Zealand is a world leader in producing fibre. We are the world’s third largest wool exporter, supplying 45 percent of the world’s carpet wool. However wool comes from a dual purpose animal and the meat is the clear star performer.
“So how can we maximise the industry’s potential and give it the attention it deserves?
“In an ideal world both products would be on equal footing, seeing much greater returns for farmers, but the past 17 years tell a worrying story for wool, with lamb climbing 500% in value, and wool climbing just 10%.
“This cannot go ignored, so it’s back to the drawing board for now,” concluded Mr Powdrell.