10 Oct 2009

Wool industry taskforce faces big job - chairman

1:35 pm on 10 October 2009

The Southland farmer appointed to head the Minister of Agriculture's wool industry taskforce has acknowledged it is a huge task to find a way to restore the sector's flagging fortunes.

David Carter has appointed eight representatives to the taskforce he has created to help steer the future direction of the industry. They include production, processing, export and marketing representatives.

Mr Carter says their job will be to build a cohesive, sector-wide strategy to lift the returns for New Zealand wool.

The taskforce will be chaired by Jeff Grant, a Southland sheep farmer, director of the Wool Grower Holdings co-operative and former chairman of Meat and Wool New Zealand and the Meat Board.

Mr Grant says the priority will be to collate the range of views in the industry and then look for a pathway forward for the strong wool area.

"I'm not convinced that we're going to necessarily fix the world," he says. "What we'll probably look to do is to say - these are some of the opportunities and these are some of the hindrances."

Robin Hilson, of the Proactive Farmers group that campaigned against the renewal of meat and wool levies, says the feedback he has had is that the taskforce membership is far too conservative.

He says if the wool industry is to be rescued it needs a wider viewpoint.

The taskforce will give the Agriculture Minister a progress report by the end of the year. He will convene a second wool industry meeting early next year.