8 Nov 2011

Wool body pushes to sign up more farmers

1:37 pm on 8 November 2011

Wools of New Zealand trustees would like to get more than half of the country's sheep farmers contributing to the body's running costs.

The wool promotion and technical services body is now back in full farmer ownership through a newly-created trust.

Trustees will be talking to growers and the rest of the industry over the next few weeks about its future role and structure.

Wools of New Zealand is currently funded by a voluntary wool market development fee, paid by more than 4000 sheep farmers who sell their wool through PGG Wrightson.

One of the trustees, Bank's Peninsula farmer Mark Shadbolt, says that represents an estimated 40% to 45% of the strong wool supply.

He says the aim is to get more farmers committed.

"If we can grow the base from our current 4300 growers to in excess of more than 50% of the growers, and I'd like to think it would be a hell of a lot more than that, then we as an industry can go forward and represent the growers in a strong way."

Mr Shadbolt says the trustees also want to talk to those involved in other initiatives such as the Wool Co proposal to raise the capital to bring the country's biggest exporter, Wool Services International, back under farmer control.

Wool Exporters Council president John Dawson says his group happy to be involved in discussions about Wools of New Zealand's role.

However in the meantime, the exporters have boosted their support for the international Campaign for Wool by doubling their financial contribuition to $750,000 a year.

The campaign, launched by Prince Charles last year, aims to rebuild consumer awareness and lift demand for wool, which has been losing ground to synthetics for decades.

John Dawson says the campaign and other promotional activities are making a difference, but re-establishing wool's position won't be easy.