WoolPoll reminder goes out …. without the levy options

Sheep Central, July 12, 2021

WoolPoll 2021 Panel chair Steven Bolt with his wife Sandra and daughter Lily.

AUSTRALIA’S wool growers are being asked to think about the levy rate they want to pay for the next three year period, weeks before all the options have been put to them.

Chair of the independent WoolPoll 2021 Panel Steven Bolt, a mixed farmer based at Corrigin, Western Australia, today encouraged all wool growers to start considering their preferred levy rate now, ahead of the voting period opening on Monday 13 September.

“This year’s WoolPoll comes at an interesting time for the Australian sheep industry as we emerge from drought in large parts of the country and as we look to rebuild the national flock.

“We have also seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted supply and demand for wool globally,” Mr Bolt said.

“Given this context, it is important for all wool growers – not just Merino wool producers – to sit down with the people they farm with to discuss WoolPoll, and to start a conversation with their peers about what they want to invest in R&D and marketing for wool through AWI.

“The WoolPoll 2021 Voter Information Memorandum will be sent out to all wool growers in the coming weeks which explains the different options they can vote on as well as the different ways they can have their say,” he said.

An Australian Wool Innovation spokesman said AWI’s preferred/recommended levy option will be in the pack to be sent to eligible levy payers with the voting papers for WoolPoll.

“This pack will be sent out in early September.”

The current levy rate until June 30 2022 is 1.5 percent. The 2021 ballot paper will list rates of: zero, the current levy rate of 1.5 percent, 1pc, 2pc, and a supplementary rate, if needed, to be proposed by AWI. Under WoolPoll review recommendations, AWI will be required to present its recommendation of a particular levy rate to growers as a stand-alone document, which could be included in the voting pack.

WoolProducers Australia president Ed Storey said it was probably the case that each WoolPoll is more important than the previous one.

“We continue to face pressures as an industry and important people have their say in how much they want to invest in R&D and marketing out of their money.”

He said the wool market has had a number of external shocks in the last 12-18 months, including the COVID-19 pandemic, but it had shown its resilience and recovered.

Mr Storey said WoolProducers would decide in August whether it would recommend a levy rate to growers, before they receive the WoolPoll pack. In WoolPoll 2019, WoolProducers recommended the 1.5pc levy rate that growers subsequently supported. AWI had recommended a 2pc levy.

New question on the WoolPoll cycle

This year’s WoolPoll will also feature a supplementary question which will ask wool growers whether they want a five-year WoolPoll cycle, or if they want to remain with the current three-year voting cycle.

The inclusion of this question is in line with the WoolPoll Review conducted in 2020, which recommended to test the preference for a five-yearly poll with wool levy payers through an additional question on the WoolPoll 2021 ballot paper.

“This gives wool growers even more say in the direction of the wool industry,” Mr Bolt said.

“As a wool grower, I believe WoolPoll presents all of us with a unique opportunity.

“AWI is our company and WoolPoll gives us the opportunity to have a say on the future level of investment we put into AWI,” he said.

“There aren’t a lot of other ag industries which have the opportunity for that kind of involvement.”

Mr Bolt encouraged all levy payers to ensure their details were up to date with AWI so they receive the Voter Information Memorandum in a timely manner by contacting the AWI office.

“At the end of the day, it’s our wool and it’s our industry. WoolPoll 2021 is our chance to have a say in how our industry’s budget is set,” he said.

“It is crucial we all have our say. Don’t let someone else decide for you.”

Voting for WoolPoll 2021 opens on Monday 13 September and closes on Friday 5 November.

WoolPoll is a voluntary vote of all wool levy payers held every three years through growers decide on the levy rate they pay to Australian Wool Innovation for investment in research, development and marketing activities.

Growers eligible to vote in WoolPoll are those who have paid the minimum in levy of $100 in the last three financial years. Almost three quarters of the top 15,000 levy payers are AWI shareholders.

As at May 2021, there were 19,284 eligible AWI shareholders, 31,652 eligible levy payers and 25,096 ineligible levy payers (with a holding below the voting threshold from a total of 76,032 levy payers.


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  1. Paul Favaloro, July 13, 2021

    Hard to believe that 42 percent of eligible levy payers are not shareholders. Do they not realise there is no cost to be a shareholder? Please, become a shareholder and have your say in how AWI is run.

    • Donald Cameron, July 14, 2021

      Perhaps that 42 percent are of the belief that AWI is the stubborn skid mark on the underpants of the Australian wool industry.

  2. Jim Gordon, July 12, 2021

    Mr Bolt, I agree with you that WoolPoll presents all of the eligible levy payers with a unique opportunity. It is the levy payers’ only opportunity to have a say in how much money is forcibly taken off them. Once the levy is set, the poor levy payer is locked in for the next three years.
    You say, and I quote: “ AWI is our company.” Sorry, stop dreaming, AWI is only interested in its own survival. AWI’s spend has nothing to do with the needs of the levy payer. An example is that $60 million has been spent on fly prevention and we have just been through the worst fly year in 20 years. AWI would have been better giving the money back to the levy payers.
    AWI has been a very well run company; however, it has nothing to do with the levy payer, except for the board’s on going suggestions of higher levies. Ed Storey, 1 percent is the go, so the levy payer has a choice in the rest of their contribution, if they so desire.

    • Martin Oppenheimer, July 12, 2021

      Jim Gordon, how do levy payers know what is required by AWI?

      Going on the past 18 months, when AWI was sacking staff and telling the “keepers” to stay at home, now the wool price is rebounding. Join the dots … less is more when it comes to funding a company that is totally confused about modern marketing and relevant research.

      AWI should tell growers what they are going to do with growers levy before they vote, not after.

      Dream on. Did I say vote 1 per cent and then zero?

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