27 Aug 2015

Farmers warned about contaminated wool.

4:18 pm on 27 August 2015

Farmers are being warned they need to wake up to the growing issue of contaminated wool.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Howie Gardner, a South Otago sheep farmer, is the new chairman of the Elders Primary Wool company, which from next week, becomes CP Wool.

He said wool was doing well and giving farmers solid returns, compared with dairying and sheepmeat right now.

But he said there were quality issues with the wool coming off farms and farmers were not getting the message about that.

"It's serious right throughout the industry and far more significant than most of us would ever believe. We as growers have not had the price signals as clearly as we should have, to influence our behaviour.

"You could almost suggest that we have engineered our own decline in some respects, particularly around management of thistle heads and general farm equipment, clothing, woolpacks, you name it, that appear in wool bales on a regular basis and its very disruptive to the manufacturing process."

He said he thought it was an attitude problem with farmers.

"We've talked ourselves down for so long, many people have lost confidence. They view wool as a by-product and its then treated as such without the pride and preparation that's required and, quite frankly, to achieve further gains, we need an improved performance inside the farm gate."

But Gardner said the Elders Primary Wool carpet wool marketing initiative, under the "Just Shorn" brand, was on a roll after its launch in the United States several years ago.

"We've now extended into the Australian market, which is actually blowing away all sorts of expectations and we are also about to launch into the New Zealand market, which will give a fair bit of visibility to New Zealand wool growers that there's some innovation happening and it's right on their door step."