Mangoplah wool grower calls for workable and uniform levy system

INDUSTRY INVESTMENT: Paul Cocking of Mangoplah in southern NSW. Picture: Nikki Reynolds
INDUSTRY INVESTMENT: Paul Cocking of Mangoplah in southern NSW. Picture: Nikki Reynolds

MANGOPLAH wool grower Paul Cocking said extending WoolPoll out to four years would not necessarily solve anything.

Mr Cocking of "Kaloona" made the comments after NSW Farmers called for WoolPoll to be stretched from three years to four years in response to the Federal Government review of the wool levy voting system.

His suggestion was to consider a five-year cycle.

Citing the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) model he suggested that WoolPoll needed to come into line with that system. This would also fit the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) format too.

"The best work carried out between AWI and MLA in the past was achieved when cycles aligned every 15 years," Mr Cocking said.

And it was this 15-year stretch that fitted in well with the suggested five year cycle.

"The industry must learn to work better with each other and realise it is using farmer and government funds," he said.

And he reiterated that these funds should be solely focused on getting the best outcomes possible for growers by using the most cost-effective means.

"There has been far too many missed opportunities and funds wasted in recent years by not having a focused strategic plan," he said.

"It is time to change and put the industry and growers first," Mr Cocking said.

Meanwhile, NSW Farmers Wool Committee chairman Andrew Wood said an extended WoolPoll period would improve budgeting certainty for AWI, especially around research projects.

"The current three-year period means that AWI's planning ability is compromised, which in turn negatively impacts the wool growers paying the levy," he said.

"During the 2018 WoolPoll, the levy was changed from 2 per cent to 1.5 per cent. Such a change amounts to a substantial difference in revenue over a three-year period," he explained.

Mr Wood said NSW Farmers has used the review to suggest further changes to the wool levy system.

"We think that wool growers should automatically become AWI shareholders ... currently only half of eligible wool growers are AWI shareholders."

NSW Farmers is also calling for MLA to conduct its levy reviews at a similar time to WoolPoll to promote collaboration and joint-funding of projects.