3 Jul 2014

Plan for new wool levy

2:09 pm on 3 July 2014

The plan to resurrect a wool levy has been officially launched.

Sheep farmers will have the chance to vote for the proposal in a referendum in October.

The consultation process was set in motion at Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre AGM on Wednesday.

Sheep farmers are to vote on re-introducing the wool levy.

Sheep farmers are to vote on re-introducing the wool levy. Photo: PHOTO NZ

There has been no wool levy since farmers voted to dump it in 2009.

But debate about the need to fund wool research and other activities has continued. And a farmer and wool industry group has been working on a proposal to introduce a new levy and set up a new industry good body to administer it.

Group chair Gisborne farmer Sandra Faulkner said conditions in the wool industry have changed since the former levy was canned.

"I think at the time we were facing almost historically low prices, so certainly the industry has seen some gains in price, but also farmers have had opportunities to invest post-harvest with some companies doing some great things with their wool and they do pay some market development levies as well.

"But what we've seen is a loss of some research spend. We're no longer able to collect accurate data on the wool industry and there seems to be a loss of heart, if you like in the industry."

Ms Faulkner said farmers want to be assured that a new wool levy funded organisation will be lean, effective and efficient.

"There is absolutely no desire whatsoever, to go back to the heady days of the Wool Board, when there were large organisations with buildings and floors full of people in Wellington.

She said there would be "a very clear line of sight" between any income from a levy stream and activities funded by it.

The proposed levy is between 2 and 5 cents per kilo of greasy or slipe wool at the first point of sale.