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Feds: Wool Is An Opportunity For All New Zealanders

Federated Farmers agrees that harnessing outside expertise and being market driven are keys to developing a sound strategic roadmap for reviving New Zealand’s strong wool sector.

In its vision and action report released today, the Wool Industry Project Action Group says it believes we are on the cusp of a natural fibre renaissance being led by more environmentally and socially conscious consumers. A new approach is needed to seize this opportunity and turn things around for the sector.

"We agree with that assessment," Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham says.

"Making sure the process is customer-focused and open about what needs to change will be critical."

The recommendation for creation of an Executive Officer role to drive action is sensible, William says.

"The most important part of this role would be sector connection and coordination, bringing farmers closer to those who sell the end product. This will add significant value to wool through shortening the value chain and creating transparency through the supply chain."

Achieving the right governance will be the prime factor if the sector is to avoid a repeat of earlier failed attempts to turn around the fortunes of strong wool.

"The Governance oversight recommended in the plan, in my opinion, should be professional and selected based on their skills and insights, with the ability to deliver strong governance systems.

"Any board established shouldn’t be too large, have diversity, should consider the growing Maori economy and be able to embrace the food and fibre sectors vision of Te Taiao (working with the natural world/our environment).

"The governance should not be compromised, it must create accountability and drive the vision"

There are young people in our industry all over New Zealand who also ‘get’ Te Taiao and they’re doing amazing things with wool in fashion, home décor and related sectors, William said.

"These are the people who put our environment, cultural and social connections at the forefront of why they do what they do. To me, these are our leaders and this is the integrity in our brand that we need to be focusing on."

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is right when he acknowledges there is no single idea or government policy to solve the wool sector’s problems, Williams says.

"Let’s gather the very best talent we can find, and get on with this. If we can effectively highlight to global markets and consumers the incredible qualities of natural wool to warm themselves and their homes, we can make wool 'shiny and new again'.

"Building wool returns through a market-driven process, back to a point where it comprises a large amount of New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers’ income, would deliver jobs and prosperity for all New Zealanders"

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