Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) will offer a 1.5 per cent levy option to wool growers in the 2018 WoolPoll.
AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough confirmed the re-introduced 1.5 levy option to Fairfax Agricultural Media this week, saying it was probably one of the worst kept secrets in the industry.
“Even though the official release date was to be later in the month, regrettably there are people out there talking about this now and they were even before Bendigo (Sheep and Wool Show),” he said.
“I can now confirm that 1.5pc will be provided to woolgrowers as an option in the upcoming WoolPoll.”
Woolgrowers currently pay a two per cent levy that was was voted in the 2015 WoolPoll.
Mr McCullough said AWI was aware there was some angst about the option not being included in the last WoolPoll in 2015.
“We really listened to what woolgrowers had to say when their views were put forward through the WoolPoll panel,” he said.
The percentages offered in the 2018 WoolPoll are in line with the levy options in 2003.
Mr McCullough also confirmed that the voter information kit (VIK) would be sent to woolgrowers a month earlier.
Typically the VIK would be sent out at the same time as the opening of WoolPoll, September 17, but this year that information will be online around August 20.
“This will give woolgrowers a good amount of time to read all of the material and digest it,” Mr McCullough said.
The CEO of Australia’s wool body stressed their strategy won’t change.
“People may think that there is plenty of money because wool prices are up, but predictions are that volume may be down by 20 per cent,” he said.
“We have to be careful. Even though value is at a good level, volume is going to be heavily impacted in the 2018-2019 year and beyond - simply because of this really tough drought that has affected dominant wool growing areas.”
He said it was not just a value proposition, but a volume proposition as well.
“We have plans moving forward to heavily invest in mechanical shearing, namely robotics and other things we are pursuing,” he said.
“And also to continue our marketing drive. Just because there is decent demand for wool at the moment doesn’t mean you stop and put your hands behind your head.
“We have some significant plans in the next 12 months to take it up another notch.”
WoolProducers CEO Jo Hall said they were approached by WoolPoll Chair, Sydney Laurie to provide their preferences for levy options to be put to woolgrowers.
Ms Hall said one of those options included the 1.5pc levy.
“WoolProducers believe that the 1.5pc must be included as a levy rate option for woolgrower consideration,” Ms Hall said.
“It provides a reasonable option to decrease the levy without having to consider the extreme step of halving or ceasing the levy contribution entirely.”
With a more thorough ROP and WoolPoll year rolled into one, Mr McCullough said it was a matter of dealing with the cards they had been dealt.
“My role is to get through those things as well as we possibly can and to work hard for woolgrowers by way of discharging R & D and marketing projects,” he said.
WoolPoll kicks off on September 17 and finishes on November 2 with voter information kits online from August 20.