Opinion: The wool industry needs a revamp

  • 09/11/2018

By Miles Anderson

OPINION: A future where opportunity exists for wool and its values are extolled is in reach.

The wool industry took a thumping with deregulation, the arrival of an influx of petroleum by-products, and when the subsidies came off farming in the 1980s - but we are building up our momentum as an industry.

We have a Minister of Agriculture that backs us, a Deputy Prime Minister who, when he was on the recent election campaign trail, backed our product, and a public hungry for an environmentally friendly fibre.

I'm now part of a group made up of wool leaders. There are issues the group has identified and is working to solve.

I am excited by what I am seeing as a creation of a working plan to give our industry a major boost. And we need a boost.

As a crossbreed wool farmer I am returning less than half the value per kilo of what my father got 30 years ago. The cost to harvest a kilo of crossbred wool more often than not exceeds the return received when I sell the wool.

This is not economically sustainable, and is part of the reason behind the dramatic drop in sheep numbers in NZ over the past 15 years. 

There are other issues the group has identified. New Zealand wool itself does not have a strong online presence, with a "just the facts" attitude - unlike other industries such as beef, dairy and horticulture.

This 'she'll be right' attitude towards the wool industry needs to change because quite simply, she won't be right until we work together for change.

There also needs to be real traction made in research and development in the world of New Zealand wool. It's almost non-existent at the moment.

We need to reinvent ourselves on the world stage and find innovative ways to add value to the raw product. And more needs to be done by the Government at rejecting synthetic materials entering the environment.

They want to implement a ban on so called single-use plastic bags, but what about other items harmful to the environment? When will synthetic fabrics walk into the Government's cross hairs? 

Miles Anderson is Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Industry Group Chairperson.