Wool growers have positive meeting

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Five Forks farmer, Blair Smith, said it doesn’t matter to him whether farmers vote for or against the wool levy, as long as they vote.

Mr Smith was commenting after North Otago farmers had the opportunity to meet with wool levy group members, Sandra Faulkner and Jeanette Maxwell, at the Five Forks Hall on Tuesday night.

Mr Smith, who is the deputy chairperson of the Central South Island Beef and Lamb NZ farmer council, admitted to feeling slightly sceptical before the meeting but said the presentation was a ‘breath of fresh air’.

“I think we need one voice and it sounds like they’ve got all the other players on side,” Mr Smith said.

He said research and development was an area of particular importance for the wool industry and this would be addressed by the reintroduction of a levy.

The question was asked at the meeting whether the levy would lead to another ‘old boys network’ but Mr Smith said farmers were told the only way this could happen is if past members were voted on to the board as directors.

He believes of those present at Tuesday night’s meeting most people left with the intention of voting in favour of the levy.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand held director meetings in Oamaru recently and Central South Island director, Ann Munro, attended to update farmers on how their levy is being spent. The levy is taken at the point of processing which Ms Munro said was 60 cents for every sheep carcass processed and $4.40 for every cattle beast.

She said the turnout of about 15 people was disappointing and an opportunity missed by local farmers. Only two farmers attended the Wakouaiti meeting.

Mr Smith said if sheep and beef farmers don’t show an interest in issues affecting them then they have to take what they’re given. He urged farmers to be more involved.

By LINDA MCCARTHY

PHOTO: LINDA MCCARTHY

PRO WOOL: Chairperson of the Wool Levy Group, Sandra Faulkner (right) and Jeanette Maxwell, former chairperson meat and fibre section Federated Farmers, have been in North Otago this week to talk to wool growers about the upcoming wool levy referendum.