Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 


The export ‘scandal’ you are not hearing about

The export ‘scandal’ you are not hearing about


Bruce Wills is the President of Federated Farmers

“The New Zealand wool industry is currently weak and fragmented to the point of being dysfunctional,” writes Sandra Faulkner in her just released Nuffield Farming Scholarship report. These words could come from the lips of many a strong wool grower.

Wool was once New Zealand’s most valuable and visible export. It was up until recently what dairying has become today. How things have changed with it down to less than two percent of all exports. If this implosion was a deficient payroll system Campbell Live would be all over it like a rash. If it was ‘asset sales,’ then I imagine Morning Report and shows like 60-Minutes, Q+A, Sunday and The Nation, let alone the newspapers, would provide scrutiny.

The absence of any national discussion about meat, but especially wool, speaks volumes about what our media chooses to cover and what drives our economy.

With job creation so vital why is sheep meat and strong wool the proverbial C- student, the one with all the potential ‘but must try harder.’ I am not talking about Merino and Mohair where there is growing organisation and collegiality similar to the dairy industry. The problem child of New Zealand farming is sheep meat but more precisely strong wool; what consumers mostly know as carpet among other products.

You may have the impression that the ‘Decline and Fall of Wool’ has been glacial but its rapid unwinding is stunningly recent. As late as October 2004, exports of meat, hides and wool still outpointed dairy and casein. In percentages back then, meat generated 93 percent of dairy’s export value with wool being 12.5 percent. Step forward to October 2012 and the relativity of meat to dairy was 45 percent with wool down to 5.8 percent. Exports of meat, hides and wool now generate just over half of dairying’s $12.5 billion in exports.

It is perhaps the biggest missed opportunity for ‘NZ Inc’ you have never heard about.

Today, New Zealand would be $6.8 billion better off if meat and wool had somehow maintained 2004 relativities to dairy. Admittedly, I have put land-use intensification to one side but this sum is greater than the combined exports of crude oil, mechanical items, electrical exports, aluminium and even, iron and steel.

Can anyone tell me how this has escaped wide media or political attention?

To be fair, Labour and National Ministers for the Primary Industries have tried but this violent unwinding of meat and wool has not been an issue much outside the industry and the rural media.

It is why I am astonished the Wools of New Zealand proposal has received so little national news coverage or analysis. On Monday 25 February 2013, their offer to wool growers will close in what is a farmer version of ‘Dragons Den.’ Wools of New Zealand aims to raise $10 million from strong wool growers to pursue international marketing and sales opportunities. While $5 million may be enough to get it over the line, farmers in return will get a slice of the company and exposure to value-added wool ‘beyond the farm gate’.

In looking forward strong wool farmers like me have a big choice; without a wool levy we can either leave it to chance or take the ram by the horns.

As a ‘farmer’ I have put my money where my mouth is and shared up. As a ‘farmer’ I challenge my colleagues to call 0800 687 9665 or go to www.ourwool.co.nz and make a decision. Speaking as the President of Federated Farmers, this is an individual decision in a desperately tough season financially and climatically.

It is not the only company seeking farmer involvement beyond the farm gate as there is also the farmer owned cooperative; Elders Primary Wool. My point is that we need to stand united and take our industry back. That means involvement beyond our farm gate because wools incremental losses will only keep mounting if we do nothing.

For wool growers and indeed our economy this issue is serious when so many young are out of work. This is why it was a genuine pleasure to write the foreword to Sandra Faulkner’s report. It is provocative and well researched. It rightly looks forward and not backwards because we all know that wool is a fabulous ‘green’ product.

We know wool is natural, renewable and nowadays, recyclable. We also know wool has excellent fire protection and health properties. What homeowners, architects and construction companies don’t seem to know is that it is a product which keeps sheep on farms and Kiwis in the type of jobs lost recently in Oamaru.

With ‘green’ wool going backwards, it has me seriously asking if green consumerism is real or marketing hyperbole. As the Christchurch rebuild will need two million square metres of floorcoverings by 2016, what is being done to promote ‘green’ woollen carpets and wool insulation?

Federated Farmers is asking these questions with sheep numbers halving over the past thirty years. Without reasonable returns from wool or meat who can blame farmers for choosing more viable land uses. I also endorse what Sandra Faulkner has shown me in her report; the need for collective grower investment, the need to support the ‘Campaign for Wool’, the need for government to do its bit too.

And most importantly, the need for us growers to take ownership.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Cosmetics & Pollution: Proposal To Ban Microbeads

Cosmetic products containing microbeads will be banned under a proposal announced by the Minister for the Environment today. Marine scientists have been advocating for a ban on the microplastics, which have been found to quickly enter waterways and harm marine life. More>>

ALSO:

NIWA: 2016 New Zealand’s Warmest Year On Record

Annual temperatures were above average (0.51°C to 1.20°C above the annual average) throughout the country, with very few locations observing near average temperatures (within 0.5°C of the annual average) or lower. The year 2016 was the warmest on record for New Zealand, based on NIWA’s seven-station series which begins in 1909. More>>

ALSO:

Farewell 2016: NZ Economy Flies Through 2016's Political Curveballs

Dec. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy batted away some curly political curveballs of 2016 to end the year on a high note, with its twin planks of a booming construction sector and rampant tourism soon to be joined by a resurgent dairy industry. More>>

ALSO:


NZ Economy: More Growth Than Expected In 3rd Qtr

Dec. 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the September quarter as a booming construction sector continued to underpin activity, spilling over into related building services, and was bolstered by tourism and transport ... More>>

  • NZ Govt - Solid growth for NZ despite fragile world economy
  • NZ Council of Trade Unions - Government needs to ensure economy raises living standards
  • KiwiRail Goes Deisel: Cans electric trains on partially electrified North Island trunkline

    Dec. 21 (BusinessDesk) – KiwiRail, the state-owned rail and freight operator, said a small fleet of electric trains on New Zealand’s North Island would be phased out over the next two years and replaced with diesel locomotives. More>>

  • KiwiRail - KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line
  • Greens - Ditching electric trains massive step backwards
  • Labour - Bill English turns ‘Think Big’ into ‘Think Backwards’
  • First Union - Train drivers condemn KiwiRail’s return to “dirty diesel”
  • NZ First - KiwiRail Going Backwards for Xmas
  • NIWA: The Year's Top Science Findings

    Since 1972 NIWA has operated a Clean Air Monitoring Station at Baring Head, near Wellington... In June, Baring Head’s carbon dioxide readings officially passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level last reached more than three million years ago. More>>

    ALSO:

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Business
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news