Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills has urged
strong wool growers to ''stand united'' and take ownership of
Speaking as a farmer, Mr Wills said he had ''shared-up'' in
Wools of New Zealand's capital raising and he challenged his
colleagues to make a decision on the initiative.
Speaking as president of the rural lobby organisation, he
said it was an individual decision ''in a desperately tough
season financially and climatically''.
The offer to wool growers closes on February 25. The company
aims to raise $10 million to pursue international marketing
and sales opportunities.
While $5 million ''may be enough to get it over the line'',
farmers, in return, would get a slice of the company and
exposure to value-added wool beyond the farm gate, Mr Wills
Wool was once New Zealand's most valuable and visible export
and its rapid unwinding was ''stunningly recent.''
''As late as October 2004, exports of meat, hides and wool
still outpointed dairy and casein.
''In percentages back then, meat generated 93% of dairy's
export value, with wool being 12.5%.
''Step forward to October 2012 and the relativity of meat to
dairy was 45%, with wool down to 5.8%.
''Exports of meat, hides and wool now generate just over half
of dairying's $12.5 billion in exports.
''It is perhaps the biggest missed opportunity for `NZ Inc'
you have never heard about,'' he said.
Wools of New Zealand was not the only company seeking farmer
involvement beyond the farm gate, as there was also the
farmer-owned co-operative Elders Primary Wool, he said.
''My point is that we need to stand united and take our
industry back, because wool's incremental losses will only
keep mounting if we do nothing.''
Mr Wills endorsed the findings of Gisborne farmer Sandra
Faulkner in her recently released Nuffield farming
scholarship report - the need for collective grower
investment, the need to support the Campaign for Wool, the
need for government to do its bit, and the need for growers
to take ownership.
In that report, Mrs Faulkner described the New Zealand wool
industry as ''weak and fragmented, to the point of being
It seemed strong wool growers had been led to believe they no
longer harvested a valuable crop off the backs of their
In stark comparison to their fine wool counterparts, strong
wool growers had lost sight of the fact they supplied a niche
product to the world - and the world wanted it.
That had been brought about by the commercial nature of the
industry post-harvest, for whom selling wool had become ''a
race to the bottom of the price scale'', she said.
Until growers began to believe in their product, have some
pride in what left their farms and started to seriously
question what happened to their wool post-harvest, they would
continue to receive unsustainably low prices for their
product, she said.