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Wool growers want change, Mr Jeff Grant
Dec '10
Time is running out for strong wool growers to bring about grower ownership of their industry.

“Wool growers have told us they want change. Ultimately, they are going to have to make sure it happens,” says Jeff Grant, Chairman of Wool Partners Co-operative Limited.

“Three out of five growers surveyed want a 100 per cent grower owned co-operative to deliver change in the industry. They recognise that only grower control of the supply and marketing of New Zealand's strong wool can achieve the change needed to provide a sustainable future for growers.”

A survey of 300 growers by UMR Research1 shows 60 per cent support the concept of an industry co-operative and a further 15 per cent may do so.

Mr Grant says there is a need for growers who have already indicated support for Wool Partners Co-operative to turn that resolve into action by completing an application for shares.

“While grower support is significant, we have yet to reach our target and more applications must be received before Wool Partners Co-operative can commence operations.”

“Every grower who has subscribed may have a neighbour who intends to do so, but who has not yet submitted their cheque. Now is the time to follow them up and get them to put that cheque in the post.”

Mr Grant acknowledged that the timing of the Wool Partners Co-operative offer was not ideal, coming after two difficult years for many growers and further disruption from lamb losses and possible drought immediately ahead.

“The fact is that there is never going to be an ideal time to launch an initiative for change. If farmers were flush there would be no need for change. The reality is that returns from wool have been declining for many years and have reached a point where change is a necessity."

“As growers we must invest in our future. We must stop competing against each other at the farm gate and invest in the value chain to earn the true worth of the world's finest carpet wool. No-one else has done that for us. No one else will in the future, in spite of the campaign against change from other elements of the industry which is now surrounding the launch of Wool Partners Co-operative.”

Mr Grant says Wool Partners Co-operative will work constructively with all elements of the wool industry – including existing exporters - with the purpose of increasing returns to growers through higher wool prices, rebates and dividends.

Wool Partners Co-operative is an industry-changing opportunity and will benefit not only the strong wool industry but the entire sheep industry.

The platform created over the last two years in establishing Wool Partners International and, most importantly, commercialising Wools of New Zealand into a strong global marketing company, is essential if we are to grow demand and return sustainable value to growers on a long term basis.

“The ability of Wool PartnersCo-operative to pay higher prices for strong wool has been demonstrated by Wool Partners International this week, with its offer of a 70 cents a kilogram premium for wool that meets the specification of LaneveTM. This is a significant step forward that shows the future for the strong wool industry.”

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