Levy about 'putting heat' into industry

The proposed levy referendum is about ''putting heat back into the industry'', Wool Levy Group chairwoman Sandra Faulkner says.

Sheep farmers will have the opportunity to vote on whether to reintroduce a wool levy in October.

Until then, Mrs Faulkner, a sheep farmer from Muriwai, and her team will be speaking to groups at events across the country about the referendum process and the importance of voting.

She called her team ''fantastic'' and said it had pan-sector representation.

The referendum will take place on October 10, 2014 and will determine if sheep farmers want to fund a new industry body by paying between 2c and 5c per kilogram of greasy or slipe wool they grow.

If the levy goes ahead it is expected to generate about $4.6 million for the first year.

Mrs Faulkner said if the referendum generated a positive majority vote, then it would be presented to the Ministry of Primary Industries minister to enact the Commodities Levies Act 1990.

Farmers at the Beef and Lamb New Zealand annual meeting earlier this year voted for the proposal.

From there the Wool Levy Group was established to oversee the referendum process.

''The farmers I spoke with all know something is coming up,'' Mrs Faulkner said.

''They all have want the chance to have their say.

''Hopefully, that will translate into votes.''

She intends to talk to the group that ran the recent DairyNZ levy process. She said the predicted levy was likely to be at the lower end of the 2c to 5c scale initially.

She said to date she had received positive feedback from farmers at meetings she had attended.

''It is about putting heat back into the industry,'' she said.

Federated Farmers (FF) supports the initiative.

FF Meat and Fibre chairwoman Jeanette Maxwell said wool was worth $700 million in New Zealand in 2013.

''The growth in wool exports to China has been explosive but there's no industry good body fighting in our corner for trade access in agreements going forward,'' Mrs Maxwell said.

''The Trans Pacific Partnership is potentially massive as will be other agreements, but wool's voice is missing.''

Commercial sheep farmer and stud breeder George Smith, of Tamlet, Wyndham said he probably would be voting for the initiative.

''When the wool levy went off [in 2009], it had a bigger impact than what we had expected, especially as some of the funding went towards SIL (Sheep Innovation Ltd) ,'' Mr Smith said.

''SIL had to tighten its belt and cut right back and once the funding it had in the kitty was gone, it had nothing left.''


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