News and Views

Agriculture Minister welcomes new industry wool group

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed a new independent sector group with its sights set firmly on revitalising New Zealand’s strong wool sector and delivering long-term sustainability and profitability.

The new independent Strong Wool Action Group is chaired by sheep and beef farmer and Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair, Rob Hewitt. The membership of 12 represents the breadth of the strong wool sector, including wool growers, consumer-facing businesses, and meat companies.

“This new group will provide a central point for the sector to work with government, and will be an important driving force behind delivering the recommendations from the Vision and Action for New Zealand’s Wool Sector report,” Damien O’Connor said.

“When I released the report in July (2020), I called for the strong wool sector to step up to bring people together who will shift the dial and build the necessary foundations to grow our strong wool sector. I’m pleased the sector has stepped up to this challenge.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries will be bringing the strong wool sector together for a workshop to agree a plan and actions. It will include the Strong Wool Action Group and a broad cross-section of the sector.”

The workshop was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 and will be rescheduled as soon as practical.

“There’s no single idea or government policy to reverse the long-term decline we’ve seen in the sector over recent decades,” Damien O’Connor said.

“To succeed, the sector needs to work together to deliver real impacts and greater participation. This needs to be driven by the sector, for the sector.”

Mr O’Connor says the key current focus of the Strong Wool Action Group is identifying consumer opportunities and identifying and sourcing the core skills needed by the sector to get it match fit.

“New Zealand needs to capture more value from strong wool by building new value chains. This will bring value back to New Zealand so, once again, wool can be a sizable part of farmer incomes.

“We have an amazing natural fibre in strong wool with a strong provenance story. There’s a tonne of examples of innovative companies across New Zealand driving higher value uses for strong wool.

“The challenge now is identifying more opportunities by further understanding what global consumers need and want and where strong wool can play a role.

“I believe this new group will deliver renewed energy, drive new thinking and approaches, and coordinate efforts across the strong wool sector. However, it must work at pace and keep steady momentum.

“I wish the group well and will be watching their progress with interest.”

Source: NZ Government

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