High hopes for wool levy return

TIM CRONSHAW
Last updated 14:07 14/03/2014
Beef + Lamb NZ chairman Mike Petersen
Fairfax NZ
HIGH HOPES: "I think it will go through, I really do and I think it will go through with a firm result," says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman Mike Petersen.

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Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen has a strong feeling sheep and beef farmers will vote in favour today of a proposal to restart the wool levy.

The proposal is one of three remits to go before levy-paying farmers with the industry  organisation at Beef + Lamb's annual meeting in Feilding this afternoon.

Petersen said the farmers he talked to seemed confident the wool levy would return to Beef+Lamb, formerly Meat &Wool before the levy was lost.

"I think it will go through, I really do and I think it will go through with a firm result .... Everyone I talk to thinks they want another look at this.

''When the farmers voted the levy out in 2009 they voted on their past frustrations with past investments and I understand that, and in many ways there almost needed a break and line in the sand.

"But now I have seen a gradual feeling that wool farmers are not being represented, and they are not investing in the sector beyond the farmgate, even though there are commercial offerings out there," Petersen said.

The remit is by the Wool Levy Review Group, independent of Beef + Lamb.

He said there was no research funding on farm for wool or contribution to sheep health with parasites research. The Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL) indexes are being funded by Beef +Lamb out of residual wool levies, but that will stop as will economic information.

He said farmers realised they needed to start doing this work.

One of the success of the organisation had been to raise awareness of work it didn't do such as controlling prices or selling product or marketing. It did some promotional work, but that was not its core business.

He said losing the levy never bothered him as the organisation was always an extension of farmers.

"I didn't think it was right but they didn't want to invest in wool and so be it."

Petersen said sheep and beef farmers and the Meat Industry Excellence reform group seemed to be doing themselves an injustice by playing down the performance of the sector and being too hard on themselves.

"We are an $8 billion industry with another $1.7b over the financial year. There is room for improvement but we are not a basket case. "

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