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The Wool Spin: All Is Not Solved

The overwhelming decision by woolgrowers in the referendum cannot be taken as a total endorsement of all ten recommendations of the McKinsey report, said ACT MP and Central Otago sheep farmer, Gerry Eckhoff.

The results released yesterday showed that 53.6 per cent of the estimated national sheep flock, were 91 per cent in favour of the reports recommendations while 9 per cent were against.

“The referendum was so broadly phrased as to allow many ‘false’ conclusions to be drawn. Yet despite a heavy spin campaign no mandate has been explicitly given.

“For example, it is quite inappropriate to draw from this result that woolgrowers are happy to support the phoenix-like re-emergence of the Wool Board under the guise of Strong Wools New Zealand or some other new research body.

“It is regrettable that the vote was not taken in at least two parts, namely should the Wool board be disbanded or not, and what, if any, other recommendations should be supported either completely or in part.

“Growers may not be aware that a decision to support one referendum could result in a large proportion of their capital pool being used to set up a new genetic research company. Existing private firms such as Global Technology in Dunedin for example, may well provide a better vehicle to reap the benefits from sheep technology and research.

“Duplication of services is not the best way to develop the biotechnology industry. Woolgrowers will already have noticed a renewed vigour within the wool industry as individuals seize new opportunities to grow this industry.

“To dump our reserves into the hands of Strong Wools New Zealand is not the way to ensure a rejuvenated prosperity for this industry,” said Roxburgh sheep farmer Gerry Eckhoff.


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