No AWI EGM required after negotiations

MEDIA RELEASE

19 March, 2019

No AWI EGM required after negotiations

The peak grower representative body for the Australian wool industry, WoolProducers Australia (WoolProducers) is pleased that the wool industry will avoid a contentious Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on issues affecting the operations of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).

Since the release of the 2018 Ernst Young Review of Performance into AWI, WoolProducers have advocated for the implementation of all 82 recommendations to improve the transparency and governance of AWI.

In late 2018, WoolProducers initiated discussions with AWI to avoid a hostile EGM whereby 75% of votes returned needed to be in favour of the resolution to change the constitution.

WoolProducers President Mr Ed Storey said, “to gain 75% of shareholder support was a big ask, particularly when there was no initial agreement by sectors of the industry on these contentious issues.”

“The recent WoolPoll vote gained 52.82% support for 1.5% on the third round of preferences, which is a long way short of the required 75% for constitutional change, which is why WoolProducers strongly believes that to negotiate this outcome was in the best interests of all woolgrowers.” Mr Storey said.

This outcome has ensured that the intent of the recommendations is retained and there will be improvements made to the operations and governance of AWI.

Mr Storey said, “without this negotiated outcome, there was no guarantee that the required changes would have been made”.

While there is agreement to five of the six contentious recommendations, the issue of board tenure is still unresolved.

“There is still work to do on tenure and WoolProducers will continue to show leadership and enter into these discussions with AWI in good faith in the best interests of industry.” Mr Storey said.

WoolProducers looks forward to continuing to work with the new leadership of AWI and hopes that these recent discussion demonstrate the start of a constructive relationship between AWI with the peak woolgrower body, WoolProducers.

WoolProducers would also like to acknowledge the Hon. David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources for his leadership in wool industry issues.

ENDS

WoolProducers Australia contact:

Ed Storey
President
0438 309 500

Jo Hall
CEO
0488 554 811


Primary producers need practical assistance, now

MEDIA RELEASE

22 February, 2019

Primary producers need practical assistance, now

The peak grower representative body for the Australian wool industry, WoolProducers Australia (WoolProducers) is today calling on all levels of government, regardless of party, to offer practical assistance to farmers currently facing hardship.

The vast nature of Australia means that we currently have a number of areas across the country facing crisis. WoolProducers CEO Jo Hall said ‘We currently have producers in far North Queensland dealing with catastrophic fallout from floods, large areas of NSW in drought and the Gippsland area of Victoria dealing with the driest conditions on record’.

WoolProducers acknowledges that there are different types of assistance available to people in these areas, but the assistance being offered varies greatly across the country.

‘Assistance must be made easier to apply for, be processed faster, and be distributed quickly so that farmers can continue producing the food we eat and the fibre we wear.’ Ms Hall said.

Today’s announcement by the Victorian government that they will not issue a rate reprieve for those battling drought in Gippsland contrasts sharply with the approach taken by the NSW government, who have waived this year’s Local Land Services levy.

“When you need help, seeing others in need able to get assistance that you can’t, becomes incredibly frustrating. One off cash payments will not address this issue”.

“The cash payment of $2,500-$3,500 will only address on average a 30% rate payment and in the scheme of things, while the cash injection will be appreciated to some extent, it does not go anyway in offering real assistance to those producers in dire need”.

“This is not about party politics and we are not asking for handouts. But we firmly believe that there are practical measures that all jurisdictions can take to alleviate the pressure facing not just farmers, but all people in regional economies who are battling” Ms Hall said.

Whilst preparedness is an important part of business risk mitigation, there is a limit to what producers can prepare for and in regional economies, if primary producers are not doing well financially then the whole regional economy suffers.

“Preparedness can only last so long, this is about managing and sustaining regions to ensure that they can survive these exceptional circumstances and be setup to flourish and thrive when favourable seasons return.”

“The time for preparedness has long past for many producers and despite their best efforts cannot be expected to carry on without tangible assistance.” Ms Hall said.


WoolProducers Australia committed to Foot and Mouth Disease Preparedness

MEDIA RELEASE

17 December 2018

WoolProducers Australia committed to Foot and Mouth Disease Preparedness

The peak grower representative body for the Australian wool industry, WoolProducers Australia (WPA) continues to strengthen its commitment to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) preparedness on behalf of the Australian wool industry.

The WPA Board resolved to co-fund a number of industry positions with the Department of Agriculture for real-time training for FMD in Nepal, which helps trainees to be better equipped to recognise and report FMD symptoms hence assisting Australia in its early warning and response capacity.

WoolProducers are currently calling for one nomination each for two courses in March, 2019. The first course will be held 4-8 March and the second from 11-15 March. Nominations close on 9 January, 2019. Further information can be acquired by emailing info@woolproducers.com.au.

Mr Ashley Cooper, WPA Policy Manager has recently returned from one of these courses.

“The course was a valuable opportunity for attendees as we were each able to gain a better understanding of our industry roles in an FMD response, should an outbreak occur in Australia. Being able to learn in a practical environment really puts the theory into practice and this solidifies your knowledge better than any desk-based course.”

“I would encourage any industry person who may assist in an emergency animal disease response with a connection to the Australian wool industry to apply.” Mr Cooper said.

These courses are designed for producers, stock handlers, private and government vets and animal health policy makers, and are delivered by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

“FMD is something that all producers hear about but this training has enabled me to think about what an outbreak would actually mean in an Australian context.” Mr Cooper continued.

“The course opened my eyes to the wider policies surrounding an FMD response in Australia and how they will impact not just on-farm activities but the whole livestock supply-chain, including the devastating implications for trade.”

WPA remains committed to FMD preparedness and has sent wool industry representatives, including producers, agents and private vets from all sheep producing states in Australia as part of this funding round.

ENDS

WoolProducers Australia contact:

Jo Hall
CEO
0488 554 811

Ashley Cooper
Policy Manager
0455 442 776


WoolProducers announces new leadership team

MEDIA RELEASE

26 November 2018

Edward Storey and Steve Harrison announced as WoolProducers Australia new leadership team

WoolProducers Australia has announced Ed Storey as their new President and Steve Harrison as Senior Vice-President.

The announcement follows WoolProducers’ AGM held in Sydney where immediate past President Richard Halliday, stood down after completing his maximum four-year term as President.

Mr Storey thanked Mr Halliday for his service to WoolProducers and the wider wool industry “Richard has contributed immensely to the wool industry over his tenure and oversaw a number of essential policy decisions to take the industry forward”.

“Some of these issues include the establishment of a Wool Industry Trust, pain relief, the end of a restrictive approach to OJD management, industry structural reform and ongoing input into wild dog management”. Mr Storey said.

Mr Storey said he looked forward to working with Mr Harrison, the WoolProducers Board and staff to continue advocating in the interests of all Australian woolgrowers.

A key priority of WoolProducers going forward is to ensure that all wool industry service providers and representative organisations are working together to serve the industry in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

Mr Storey said “WoolProducers believes that the implementation of the recommendations from the Review of Performance of AWI is of crucial importance to the success of this cohesive approach”.

“WoolProducers welcomes the appointment of Ms Collette Garnsey to the role of Chair and we look forward to working with their new leadership team to ensure positive outcomes for woolgrower and the wider industry.”

ENDS

Media Contacts:

Ed Storey, President
0438 309 500

Jo Hall, CEO
0488 554 811


Woolgrowers decide wool levy to be 1.5%

MEDIA RELEASE

16 November, 2018

Woolgrowers decide wool levy to be 1.5%

WoolProducers Australia has welcomed the announcement of the WoolPoll results today, with growers determining that 1.5% will be the levy paid for the next strategic cycle of wool research, development and marketing.

WoolProducers President Richard Halliday said “Growers have had the opportunity to have their say on what amount of levy they wish to pay for the next three years, and they have determined that 1.5% is appropriate.”

WoolProducers decided to advocate for 1.5% after careful consideration of the figures and projected forecasts provided by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) in the Voter Information Memorandum (VIM).

“WoolProducers strongly believed that 1.5% would provide ample money for AWI to conduct their current business as well as invest in relevant new areas.

“The last three financial years has seen expenditure by AWI of between $70 and $88M per year and the industry got to a good place with that level of investment.” Mr Halliday said.
WoolProducers’ decision to advocate a lower levy was not a protest decision or linked to governance concerns.

“It is important to note that whilst we continue to have concerns around the governance of AWI and their response to many of the recommendations in Review of Performance, these issues were never a factor in our decision to support 1.5%” Mr Halliday said.

WoolProducers believes that now that growers have made their decision and the levy has been set, AWI’s focus must continue to be implementation of the review recommendations.
“The review recommendations were made independently to improve the governance and operations of AWI, so they must now get on with implementing them in the quickest way possible”.

“WoolPoll can no longer be considered to be a distraction so AWI must forge ahead to modernise the organisation in the interests of all woolgrowers.” Mr Halliday concluded.

ENDS

WoolProducers Australia contact:
Richard Halliday
President
0428 854 759

Jo Hall
Chief Executive Officer
0488 554 811


Lower wool volumes mean reduced income for woolgrowers

MEDIA RELEASE

22 October, 2018

Lower wool volumes mean reduced income for woolgrowers

Australian Wool Innovation’s (AWI’s) recent media statements and comments regarding a reduction in income of 36% on the back of reduced volumes if a lower levy is voted in, misses the obvious fact that their own levy payers are the ones that are currently suffering the most during the dry conditions being experienced across large parts of Australia’s wool growing areas.

AWI are calling on wool levy payers to vote 2% in this year’s WoolPoll to ‘ensure that AWI can continue to invest in current and new projects for the next three years’, as there is a forecast 15% decrease in this year’s production based on Australian Wool Testing Authority’s (AWTA’s) recent supply figures.

AWI are asking for 2% of growers’ income to go into their coffers even though many growers will experience a significant decrease in their own business’ bottom line.

Whilst research, development and marketing of the wool industry is very important, the financial stability of levy payers is far more important. To cite reduced production as a reason to keep the levy at 2%, is essentially asking growers to put the interests of AWI before their own business.

According to the WoolPoll Voter Information Memorandum (VIM), 1.5% offers projected annual income of between $85.8M - $88M per year for the next three years which is ample money for AWI to conduct their current business as well as invest in relevant new areas. A 1.5% levy offers a projected annual total income of between $85.8M to $88M per year for the next three years. The last three financial years has seen expenditure by AWI of between $70 and $88M per year.

The reality is 1.5% will still deliver more money to AWI than they have ever received and why WoolProducers is advocating for this amount.

WoolProducers strongly believe that the half of a percent (.5%) is better in growers’ pockets in order to rebuild their own businesses when the season changes.

ENDS

WoolProducers Australia contact:
Richard Halliday
President
0428 854 759
Jo Hall
Chief Executive Officer
0488 554 811