When New Zealand’s Agriculture, Biosecurity and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor met with his new Australian counterpart yesterday, the subject of biosecurity was top of their agenda.
Wool Impact is a collaboration between the Government and sheep sector partners under the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to grow export revenues for wool.
The $11.4 million three-year programme will see sector partners contribute $6.9 million on top of the Government’s $4.5 million investment.
“It would be fantastic to see strong wool becoming our first choice of fibre in our homes, schools and businesses,” says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
“Wool Impact is charged with making it a compelling and affordable alternative to synthetic fibres, and reversing the significant under-investment of the past three decades.”
He says this under-investment has resulted in poor returns for growers and others across the supply chain.
“Urgent action is needed.
“There are so many uses for strong wool ranging from carpets, insulation and acoustic panels to more recent developments in deconstructed wool particles, powders and pigments.
“Now is the time for consumers and businesses to make the most of this great natural fibre.”
O’Connor says Wool Impact’s purpose is to facilitate innovation and investment, support demand growth, boost sector services, and enable a unified voice for strong wool in New Zealand. Its formation is based on the 2021 recommendations of the Strong Wool Action Group.
“As consumers turn more towards products made with care for people and place, New Zealand can play a leading role in supplying this wonderful fibre to the world.”
O’Connor says New Zealand’s renewed strong wool success would only be possible if the wider sector got behind new initiatives.
“There’s no single idea or government policy to solve the wool sector’s problems. We need a collaborative approach, and Wool Impact is the catalyst to make this happen.”
Wool Impact’s sector partners are currently WoolWorks, the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ), and meat companies AFFCO, ANZCO, Alliance, Progressive Meats, and Silver Fern Farms.
O’Connor says the support of partners is proof of the importance they place on a successful strong wool sector, and its contribution to the long-term viability of sheep farming in New Zealand.
“Around the world I want designers, procurement managers, landlords and homeowners seeing value in wool – not cost. And I want to see sheep farmers investing in rams for wool production. Those will be the metrics of this project’s success,” O’Connor says.
“I encourage the wider strong wool sector, including our growers, innovators, and others to get behind Wool Impact. Together we can really shift the dial for our strong wool sector.”