Wool industry unity 'must come from farmers'

Updated at 6:32 am on 10 November 2012

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chair Jeanette Maxwell says it's up to farmers to bring some unity to the wool industry.

She told the meat and fibre council meeting in Wellington this week that little has changed despite the Minister of Agriculture's initiative in setting up a wool unity group two years ago and the industry remains fragmented.

Ms Maxwell says there are several different initiatives within the wool industry, but there is no unity within those initiatives.

She says the only place where unity is occurring within the wool industry is at the farmer level.

Call for farmers to support local wool processing

A Marlborough mid micron wool grower and representative Greg Harris says farmers need to support New Zealand owned and operated manufacturers to add value to their wool.

He says 30 years ago New Zealand had 18 woollen mills producing 10,000 tonnes of carpet and millions of square metres of fabric and yarns.

But Mr Harris says the dearth of further processing here now is forcing New Zealand apparel manufacturers to import yarn from Australia and South Korea.

"To me that's criminal, essentially we have to pay a tariff to export that wool to get further process and then we've got to pay an import duty on that to bring it back into the country - it's just crazy".

Mr Harris says if farmers want to derive more money from their wool, they need to add value, invest in processing and collectively support initiatives in these companies.

Mr Harris says further processing the scouring by-product wool grease before export would also add millions of dollars more value to farmers' wool clips.

Next story in Rural: Wool campaign chairman hails initiative's success