4 Dec 2009

Wool research funding scrapped

9:26 pm on 4 December 2009

A wool research consortium has become another casualty of farmers' rejection of a wool levy, the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ) says.

It says the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FORST) has turned down funding for such a consortium, mainly because of the farmer vote not to renew the wool levy they pay Meat and Wool New Zealand.

WRONZ has more than $30 million invested from the sale of the Canesis research company and other assets, from which it provides income for wool processing research.

Last year, it initiated the idea of a consortium to combine funding from it and other wool industry sources to attract a matching contribution from the government science funding body, FORST.

Its chairman, North Otago farmer David Douglas, says the proposal had full industry support, and the failure to get government funding is a serious blow for a sector struggling trying to get back on its economic feet.

He says it appears that if farmers weren't prepared to invest in wool research via the levy, the Government wasn't prepared to invest either.

Mr Douglas says WRONZ will meet on Monday to discuss what it will do about future research funding.

Meat and Wool New Zealand has already announced staffing reductions and wide-ranging cuts to research, marketing and training programmes to cope with the loss of $6.5 million a year in levy income.