Growers divided on WoolPoll rate

27 Aug, 2003 10:00 PM
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KEEPING the WoolPoll rate at 2pc is fine by Royce Taylor, Lake Grace, as long as Australian Wool Innovation can show where and how growers' money is being invested.

Royce said AWI should continue to focus on R&D and promotion with regular reports to growers.

"It needs way more accountability just so that we know the money is not getting wasted," he said.

"I think there should be money there and I think the current rate of 2pc is okay."

Boyup Brook grower John Griffiths agreed with 2pc, saying it was a realistic figure and was not exorbitant.

"I don't think the other rates below 2pc are viable," John said.

"They need to get a certain amount so that they have got adequate funds to do their work without skimping and economising too much."

Sid Walker, Newdegate, said 2pc was the right rate.

"We need money for research and as long as it goes to the right places, 2pc is okay," Sid said.

Cut it in half

VETERAN Greenville Stud principal Bill Wade wants the rate reduced to 1pc.

He said AWI hadn't delivered for growers after the 2pc rate was introduced in 2000.

"When they bought in the 2pc, we thought that would be a help but I don't think they've achieved much from it," Bill said.

"1pc would be plenty, they would still obtain a lot of money, but I wouldn't like to see it abolished."

Bill said other sectors of the wool supply chain should also contribute to R&D and promotion costs.

... then there were none

CRANBROOK grower Tom Irving wants a zero rate introduced if AWI can't show where growers' funds are being spent.

"I want to see what market research they have done," Tom said.

"Then I'll have a look at what's going to hit the ground before I start talking about other rates."

Tom would like brokers to conduct more market research, especially overseas, to provide more precise information to growers.

"The main thing is for them to get around and see what the market wants," Tom said.

He said growers should focus on growing the best quality and highest yielding wool they could produce in their region.

Colin Lewis, Colindale Stud, intends to vote zero and has recommended all his clients ‹ about 100 of them ‹ do the same.

"This WoolPoll is going to come up every three years and at the moment they've got over $100m in the kitty, so I think that's enough to tie them over for the next three years," Colin said.

He believes there will be a grower backlash and is predicting a big zero wool vote in WA.

"There is definitely going to be a backlash coming," Colin said.

He said billions of dollars had been spent on R&D in the wool industry over the past 30 years with minimal returns.

"Over the last 30 years, I don't see any benefit coming from our wool taxes at all," Colin said.

Ray Lewis, Lewisdale Stud, also backs a zero rate.

He said the industry should be putting its money into rebuilding the Merino flock instead of continuing its current level of R&D investment.

"Sheep numbers have halved in Australia over the last 4-5 years," Ray said.

"We haven't got enough sheep so I can't see why we should be paying 2pc of our gross to AWI.

"We should be breeding more sheep because I can see in the future we won't even replace the amount of sheep that is going out of the system."

Ray said he wanted more accountability from AWI after he said wool R&D organisations hadn't "produced the goods" for growers in the past.

"I want to know where all this money is going," Ray said.

"How much money is in the till and what do they want more money for?"

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