Wool companies get behind new national standards programme

More than a dozen companies have signed up so far.
More than a dozen companies have signed up so far. Photo credit: Getty

More than a dozen companies have signed up to a new national wool standards programme.

It's part of the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP), which guarantees members meet high standards around traceability, biosecurity, food safety, environmental sustainability and animal health and welfare.

NZFAP chairman Nick Beeby said 15 wool companies would be taking part in the programme. They would join 17 red meat processors, one other wool company, a sheep milk company, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Deer Industry New Zealand.

"This initiative creates a single multi-sector assurance standard, eliminates duplication and further reduces cost," Beeby said on Thursday.

"The adoption of the NZFAP as a national standard for wool will also help to drive consistency in grower standards and provide a platform for the standardisation of New Zealand wool, which can command a price premium for the benefit of growers and accredited companies in the value chain."

He said there were currently around 8000 NZFAP-certified sheep, beef and deer farmers, with about 6500 farming sheep. All wool companies that sign up as members of NZFAP get immediate access to Farm Assured wool from those 6500 properties.

The wool sector has been struggling in recent years, with wool prices hitting a record low last year. 

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor last year described the findings of a report by a Government group tasked with analysing the industry's problems as "grim".

Craig Smith, chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests (NCNZWI), said he hoped the new standards programme would help the flagging industry to recover.

"The wool sector has been under-performing in what has been a challenging consumer market, but this move creates a unique and compelling value proposition for New Zealand wool by leveraging on the provenance and world-leading practices that occur here," he said.