14 Sep 2009

Minister seeks greater unity for wool industry

1:36 pm on 14 September 2009

Minister of Agriculture David Carter says he's under no illusions about the challenge of bringing some unity to the warring wool industry.

Farmers have rejected Meat and Wool New Zealand's proposed wool levy for the next five years, leaving the sector without an industry body collecting levies for activities such as research and training.

Exporter and sheep farming interests were planning a summit later this month to discuss the wool industry's future.

However, Mr Carter has called a meeting of industry representatives on 1 October, which he expects may replace the proposed summit.

He will be asking participants to set aside the politicking and patch protection that have plagued the industry for years.

Mr Carter says there are some relatively entrenched positions within the wool industry, but collectively it's acknowledged that without some form of commodity levy and money spent on research the industry is going to find it more difficult to pull itself out of its decline.

Mr Carter says the industry needs a clear and combined way forward to arrest the continual decline in export earnings.

A sheep farmer lobby organisation, the Wool Advancement Group, has welcomed the minister's decision to call wool sector representatives together to try to bringing some unity to the divided industry.

Convenor Pat O'Sullivan does not think the loss of the wool levy leaves the sector vulnerable, but agrees with Mr Carter's plea for wool interests to set aside their years of squabbling to get the industry back on its feet.