Aussie growers urged to support wool tax

By Boyd Champness

AUSTRALIAS woolgrowers have been urged to support nothing less than a 2% woolgrower-funded tax in next months landmark industry ballot in the wake of the Federal Governments decision to wind-up the ill-fated Woolmark Company.

Once growers have registered their wool tax preference, the Government will begin its process to supersede Woolmark with a leaner organisation.

Woolmark has been responsible for research and development projects over the years as well as the generic promotion of wool, which most industry experts regard as a failure.

The National Woolgrowers Forum met in Sydney last week, including representatives from all state farming organisations, Wool Council of Australia, the Australian Woolgrowers Association and sheep breed organisations.

They nominated a 2% tax or higher as the industrys preferred position on wool funding levels.

From February to 3 March, woolgrowers will vote by postal ballot on five different tax options, ranging from nothing to 4% of gross wool earnings, to determine the future extent and structure of all Australia wool marketing and research activities.

NWF chairman Peter Laird told the Stock and Land that the 2% or higher tax option position was decided by “almost unanimous” vote after two days of debate, and indicated the high importance growers now placed on innovative research and development.

“Very obviously, generic promotion is out, and innovative R&D is the big future. We have to identify markets, and tune our R&D to get product into those markets,” Mr Laird said.

But while a lot of effort and money is being spent encouraging woolgrowers to vote on their future, some woolgrowers have aired grievances over a lack of direction from their leaders.

The failure of the WoolPoll working party to provide any form of cost benefit analysis to each of the levy options and the failure of the NWF to nominate a preferred tax option (other than to support a 2% tax or higher) has angered producers such as Dunkeld grower, Vanne Trompf.

“In these situations we need information to make an informed decision,” he told The Weekly Times.

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