WAFarmers pushes for 1.5 per cent levy in this year’s WoolPoll

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Sheep.
Camera IconSheep. Credit: Zach Relph

WAFarmers has rebutted Australian Wool Innovation’s push for more revenue and encouraged its woolgrower members to vote for a 1.5 per cent levy in this year’s WoolPoll.

The triennial woolgrower vote will determine both AWI’s income between July 2022 and June 2025 and how much revenue the peak wool body can put into research, development and marketing.

Australian woolgrowers — who pay a levy to AWI on each bale of wool sold — made history in November 2018 when they voted in a 1.5 per cent levy rate for the first time.

The move effectively cut AWI’s income by 25 per cent between July 2019 and June 2022, despite the rate — introduced in 2000 — never previously being lower than 2 per cent.

WAFarmers Livestock Council last week passed a motion to advocate for a 1.5 per cent levy and for the WoolPoll cycle to be changed from three to five years.

The group is the third to publicly throw its support behind a 1.5 per cent levy rate this year, following in the footsteps of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA and national body WoolProducers Australia.

The council’s president Geoff Pearson said changing the WoolPoll vote to every five years would “give more certainty in research funding”.

WAFarmers livestock council president Geoff Pearson.
Camera IconWAFarmers livestock council president Geoff Pearson. Credit: Countryman

Mr Pearson encouraged all woolgrowers to consider the information in the voter information memorandum on the WoolPoll website and vote — whether or not they agreed with WAFarmers’ position — saying it offered a “genuine democratic process”.

WAFarmers wool spokesman Steve McGuire said the preferential voting system meant levy payers needed to “complete their preferences carefully”.

“Projections for wool production are expected to increase, there is a fair bit of confidence about the price of wool and AWI has substantial reserves,” he said.

“So we think that status quo is adequate.

“The view is that the money sitting in reserves, in their bank account, they don’t need more. So let growers have money sitting in their bank accounts rather than in AWI’s.”

AWI has put forward levy rates of 0, 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5 per cent, and is promoting a 2 per cent levy with the group’s chair saying it would deliver industry wide investment.

In spruiking the 2 per cent levy this month, Mr Laurie said retaining the 1.5 per cent levy rate would leave AWI “fighting with one hand behind our back”.

He said AWI had “key projects” that needed “extra funding”, including local ones involving promising research work on developing a vaccine for flystrike and additional shearer and wool handler training and support.

International projects needing attention included fighting against proposed clothing labelling changes in Europe, increasing wool’s use in sporting, casual and leisurewear, and “smart” marketing campaigns in major markets, Mr Laurie said.

Voting opened on September 13, and closes on November 5.

Anyone who has paid at least $100 in wool levies over the past three years is eligible to vote.

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