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Time to fix inequity of wool levy

Feb '07
National woolgrower body WoolProducers Australia, has welcomed the recent decision by the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, Hon Peter McGauran, to accept the 2% levy rate recommendation from the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) Board, resulting from last years WoolPoll.

However, in supporting the decision, WoolProducers Australia President Robert Pietsch has reaffirmed the commitment of woolgrowers to follow through on the results of the supplementary question in WoolPoll, in which growers overwhelmingly voted to improve the equity of the levy collection process.

“At the 2006 WoolPoll over 90% of growers voted in favour of extending the levy collection base to include alternative harvesting methods such as biological techniques and fell-mongering,” said Mr Pietsch.

“There are a small group that accept the benefits of the R&D work of AWI, yet make no financial contribution in respect of this specific wool.”

“It is inequitable that some in the industry contribute to a levy that funds marketing and innovation while others don't, but that everyone gets the benefit. This is definitely against the principle of agricultural levies in Australia.”

“It is also quite ironic that a technology such as biological harvesting would not exist if not for the investment by growers, yet anyone who now uses this technology does not have to contribute to the levy.”

“As the WoolPoll voting is based on levy payments, those who would be affected by a change in the levy will not have had to have their say, and therefore it is reasonable that further consultation on this should occur.”

“However, at the end of the day, WoolProducers Australia would not accept an argument that these businesses and individuals are in some way a separate industry and therefore subject to a separate levy at their discretion.”

“They sell wool which has been harvested in Australia, has benefited from R&D and marketing that has been paid for by Australian growers and therefore they should contribute to the levy like everybody else.”

WoolProducers, Australia

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