INTERNATIONAL Wool and Textile Organisation president Peter Ackroyd’s role as a highly paid consultant to Australian Wool Innovation should have been disclosed in a recent letter he released, WAFarmers said today.
WAFarmers said it was concerned the IWTO president was “pulling wool over grower’s eyes” by attempting to influence wool growers’ decisions on whether to maintain a 2 percent wool levy rate in the WoolPoll 2018 ballot.
Mr Ackroyd recently wrote to major media outlets under IWTO letterhead urging growers not to reduce wool promotion, as AWI shareholders vote on whether to vary the compulsory levy they pay, which helps AWI fund wool marketing.
“At a time when wool naturally ticks almost all the boxes in the environmental debate, it would be foolhardy to say the least, to anticipate any reduction in budgets for wool promotion as other fibres plan expensive and often mendacious ecological onslaughts on the global fashion industry,” Mr Ackroyd’s letter said. See Sheep Central’s previous story and read Mr Ackroyd’s letter here.
WAFarmers Livestock Council vice president Steve McGuire said while Mr Ackroyd may enter the discussion, it is disappointing that he did so without disclosing the fact that he is a highly paid consultant for AWI and therefore has a significant conflict of interest in regards to this matter.
“Mr Ackroyd is president of the IWTO and was also paid over $250,000 by AWI for his services in 2016/17.
“This fact places his statement in a much different context,” Mr McGuire said.
“WAFarmers believes this is a major conflict of interest and should have been disclosed to wool growers.
“Mr Ackroyd does not specifically mention WoolPoll in his letter; however his intent to support the AWI board in advocating for the retention of the 2 percent levy rate is clear,” he said.
WAFarmers is recommending that woolgrowers vote for the 1.5 percent levy option, while AWI is seeking maintenance of the 2pc levy to fund future marketing, research and development programs.
“A 1.5 percent levy rate does not mean AWI will have to reduce its total expenditure compared to previous years, it just means they will not be able to increase their outlay as much as projected,” Mr McGuire said.
“The levy can be topped up with the massive reserves that have accumulated in recent years.
“AWI’s CEO and board members have raised concerns about the effect of the drought on supply of wool and subsequently levy income,” he said.
“The real situation is that although the wool clip volume has decreased by about 15-20 percent from what AWI budgeted, the value of wool has increased by a similar amount.
“This balancing effect should not significantly impact the financial position of AWI for the 2018/19 year,” he said.
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