New Zealand coarse wool needs some serious help - maybe it's time to look seriously at a wool levy again, writes Federated Farmers Meat & Wool policy advisor Julie Geange.
New Zealand wool is a great product.
You know it and I know it – but who else knows it outside of farming circles?
It has only been four years since the last failed attempt to introduce a wool levy to lift the performance of a product and invest in an industry which desperately needs it.
You might say things are no different now than what they were in 2014 when producers voted not to go ahead with a wool levy. And if you look at the financial return to the farmer you would be correct.
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However, times change.
I'm not proposing anything extreme, however, maybe now is the time for us to be looking seriously at a wool levy again to lift the profile and profitability of New Zealand wool - coarse wool needs some serious help.
Look at what merino producers achieved when they struck out on their own – they have brand recognition – imagine if coarse wool had that.
We need to learn from the past, but not allow that to stop us from giving things another go.
Maybe a change in our mentality, to stop thinking that this would be just another bloody tax.
Perhaps an increase could be looked at as this - an investment in your business.
We all invest in our businesses to see them survive and grow. We need to look at our collectable business where there are clearly identified shortfalls that need addressing urgently.
Training would be one issue that comes to mind, investing in those that harvest our wool, our shearers and shedhands is like planning for succession and when we join together and work towards a common goal we are more likely to succeed.
So, the question is do we wait another four years with no change or do we consider the option of making an honest attempt at introducing a wool levy?
It could be a move able to deliver what wool growers desperately want - a higher return and relief.