Wednesday, 26 February 2020 11:46

The wool industry is still facing challenges

Written by  Pam Tipa
Primary wool chair Janette Osborne. Primary wool chair Janette Osborne.

The wool industry continues to face challenges with depressed wool prices for a third year in a row, says Primary Wool Cooperative chair Janette Osborne.

“Combined with increased shearing and associated costs this now means a net loss on wool for many farmers,” she says in the co-op’s annual report

“We are also seeing an overall gradual decline in total wool volumes with both lambs and ewes going to the works woolly and lower grade oddments including dags being used on farm for environmental work.”

Osborne told Rural News the wool industry is definitely at a low point after three years of low prices.

“A lot of strong wool farmers are getting close to giving up on wool - it has now moved to an expense item for many and will end up on a downhill spiral unless we keep pushing forward.”

She says what is needed is:

• Innovation (such as wool and hemp like NZ Yarn/CP Wool or wool deconstruction like Wool Research of NZ), 

• Promotion of environmental and natural attributes,

• Educating the general public about wool,

• Encouraging and showing farmers how they can maximise the value of their wool – providing good quality pricing information and advice so they can make decisions on shearing cycles, timing and shed preparation.

She says they are getting some great feedback from shareholders from our monthly newsletters and have had some fantastic suggestions which they will incorporate into future plans.

Osborne says they took a strategic refocus last year

The forward focus needs to be on collaboration, innovation, promotion, advocacy, and good governance.

Under collaboration shareholders want to see a broken industry work towards becoming whole. 

Primary Wool Cooperative will work with other organisations both within and outside the wool industry. This collaboration may include strategic relationships with organisations like Wool Working Group, Campaign for Wool, Cooperatives NZ and the Sustainable Business Network. 

In regards to innovation it will encourage, promote and partner with others to bring innovative ideas to life. Osborne says this includes, but is not limited to, unique and niche yarns being manufactured by NZ Yarns, wool/hemp products, wool interior design products.

Primary Wool Cooperative wants to be recognised as a proactive promoter of wool both inside and outside the wool industry. 

“In an effort to avoid duplicating what others are doing and create the most effective promotion we will work to seek out promotion opportunities with existing promoters,” the cooperative says.

Under advocacy, Primary Wool Co-Operative says it offers growers a seat at the CP Wool table. 

“We are a strong sheep farmer voice representing our members and representing farmer interests. We will advocate to the public. 

“Primary Wool Co-Operative will be available for people when they want to talk to wool farmers. As a board, we take this representation seriously and work to represent with integrity and honesty.” 

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