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.


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


WoolProducers urges growers to vote 1.5% in WoolPoll

MEDIA RELEASE

17 September, 2018

WoolProducers urges growers to vote 1.5% in WoolPoll

Peak woolgrower representative body WoolProducers Australia has announced that they will be advocating for 1.5% in this year’s WoolPoll.

 

With voting opening today, WoolProducers are recommending to levy payers to choose 1.5% as this will provide Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) with enough money to continue their work on behalf of industry and invest in necessary new projects.

 

WoolProducers President Mr Richard Halliday said ‘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.’

 

AWI are urging levy payers to vote 2%, particularly in light of reduced supply and price concerns, however WoolProducers disputes the assertion that 1.5% is unviable.

 

‘2% will see an expenditure of $110M per year over the next three years, which coupled with the budgeted expenditure of $111.2M for this financial year, means that AWI are intending to spend nearly half a billion dollars in woolgrower and tax payer money during the next four years’. Mr Halliday said.

 

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.

 

‘Even a $100M annual expenditure represents a 28% increase over the $78M average of the past three years. While $110m would represent a staggering increase of over 40% on the average of the past 3 years – we feel this is too much money to spend and we cannot stand for wastage of growers’ money.’

 

‘1.5% levy is actually supporting a substantial increase in the amount AWI has to spend, even under a scenario where production volumes incur a significant shock and should enable the board of AWI to do most, if not all of the programmes they are keen to do’. Mr Halliday said.

 

The VIM states that the unaudited reserves of the AWI are $115M, which given the strong finish in the EMI of the last financial year, could be even higher.

 

‘The reality is that AWI has never had so much money given the current healthy state of the reserves and the continued strong prices. ‘

 

‘Whilst the concerns of productions are valid, we believe that one of the best ways to contribute to increasing production is leave that extra half a percent in woolgrowers’ pockets by voting 1.5%’. Mr Halliday said.

 

WoolPoll is a triennial vote undertaken by eligible wool growers to determine the amount of their wool cheque that goes towards research, development and marketing which is administered by AWI.

ENDS

WoolProducers Australia contact:

Richard Halliday                                                                                     Jo Hall

President                                                                                                 Chief Executive Officer

0428 854 759                                                                                          0488 554 811


WoolProducers calls for AWI to get on with implementing recommendations

MEDIA RELEASE

26 June 2018

WoolProducers calls for AWI to get on with implementing recommendations

Peak woolgrower representative body, WoolProducers Australia is calling on Australian Wool Innovation to implement all recommendations made in the recent review of performance called by Minister Littleproud.

 

Recent claims made by AWI has included that the recommendations will cost ‘millions of woolgrower dollars’.

 

Whilst acknowledging that there will be a cost in implementing these recommendations, WoolProducers rejects that these will costs will be as substantial as claimed.

 

WoolProducers Senior Vice President Ed Storey said ‘The reality is the recommendations are aimed at modernising AWI and their operations.’

 

‘Any costs associated with implementing these changes are due to AWI Board not ensuring that AWI have kept abreast of good governance practices over the past few years.’ Mr Storey said.

 

WoolProducers are calling for consistency in the implementation of these recommendations – governance issues are the responsibility of the AWI Board and there is no need for these to go to shareholder votes.

 

‘There are a number of recommendations that will require shareholder approval, but also a number that the Board can implement themselves. The report suggests that many recommendations can be made without the need for shareholders to vote.’

 

‘WPA see no reason why those recommendations that the Board can implement themselves aren’t done immediately to make AWI the most effective and efficient organisation for woolgrowers.’ Mr Storey said.

Although there is ambiguity around how some recommendations are implemented, AWI have indicated that they have sought legal advice on how best to implement these. As this legal advice has been funded by woolgrowers, WoolProducers are calling for this advice to be made public.

 

AWI has also claimed that the recommendations regarding the Board Nomination Committee and how director elections are conducted will see woolgrowers lose their ability to vote for candidates for Board elections – this is simply false.

 

‘Comparisons with the Meat and Livestock Australia election process are factually incorrect, no where do the recommendations suggest that the number of candidates running for board elections will be stifled.’

 

‘Nominees will need to possess certain skills in line with a skills-based Board, which is a requirement under the Statutory Funding Agreement.

 

This does not mean that candidates will not possess knowledge of the wool industry; rather they will be able to use these skills in addition to their industry knowledge to add further value to AWI’. Mr Storey said.

ENDS

 

WoolProducers Australia contact:

Jo Hall

Chief Executive Officer

0488 554 811

 

Ed Storey

Senior Vice President

0438 309 500