Campaign to vote against wool industry levy rise heats up

Campaign to vote against a rise in wool industry levies heats up

WoolProducers Australia president Ed Storey from Yass in NSW asks growers to reject AWI's call to increase levies.

WoolProducers Australia president Ed Storey from Yass in NSW asks growers to reject AWI's call to increase levies.


Woolgrowers have again been advised to reject a plea for a rise in industry levies.


Woolgrowers have again been told to reject a plea for a rise in industry levies.

The peak woolgrower representative body WoolProducers Australia has for the second time advised eligible wool levy payers to vote for 1.5 per cent in this year's WoolPoll.

Held every three years, the voluntary vote sets the levy rate for Australian Wool Innovation research, development and marketing activities.

AWI has itself asked growers to lift the levy to 2pc in the WoolPoll, which closes on November 5.

Five levy rate options have been set for growers to consider in the WoolPoll - 0pc, 1pc, 1.5pc, 2pc and 2.5pc.

AWI chairman Jock Laurie has said if funding stays at current levels, AWI's ability to deliver for growers was limited.

"Our industry has opportunities but also many challenges and that's why we needs the extra investment," Mr Laurie said.

But WoolProducers Australia is directly campaigning against the AWI and are urging levy payers to not only vote for the status quo at 1.5pc but to strategically use their preferences as well.

WoolProducers president Ed Storey said it was important growers took advantage of the preferential systems used for the WoolPoll.

Mr Storey advised levy payers to put a "one" in the 1.5pc levy rate option and then put the numbers two through to five, in the other levy rate boxes in their preferred order.

"It is very important to do this to ensure that your vote doesn't expire if the ballot goes to preferences like it did in 2018," he said.

"And remember that if you do not want to increase the levy you should direct your preferences below the status quo. This will ensure that your vote has the most impact," Mr Storey said.

Mr Storey said AWI was "dedicating a lot of resources" to influence growers to vote for the 2pc levy.

He said AWI claimed it would not be able to able to fund basic research and development, and marketing functions without the extra funding.

Mr Storey said claims from AWI in 2018 that a 1.5pc levy would leave them "technically insolvent" had proven to be untrue.

"The $106 million in reserves as reported in this year's Voter Information Memorandum, shows that that was nothing more than a scare tactic," Mr Storey claimed.

"It is very hard for AWI to argue for a levy increase when they have continued to invest in things like WoolQ, which has cost around $6.4 million and to date has delivered very little benefit to growers," he said.

AWI's support for a commercial online selling platform, WoolQ, have come under sustained criticism from the industry.

AWI has recently said it was now looking to commercialise WoolQ.

Many farmers have questioned the spending of levies to prop up WoolQ since it was launched in 2018.

AWI has previously said the initiative had cost more than $6 million but had fewer than a thousand bales sold through the online portal in a year.

Mr Storey said even at 1.5pc growers would still be paying one of the biggest compulsory levies of all agricultural producers.

He said other commodities such as grains pay around 1pc, while red meat producers have a cap on the leviable amount "and are currently paying a fraction of what their wool counterparts are".

Mr Storey said 1.5pc gave AWI enough money to conduct industry research, development and marketing.

"We can see no genuine reason for a levy increase," Mr Storey said.

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