WHILE many state farming organisations did not direct growers to vote for a particular percentage during WoolPoll 2012, Western Australian farm lobby groups openly instructed their members that 1pc or less was the most appropriate levy option for AWI.
NSW Farmers, the SA Farmers Federation, AgForce, Victorian Farmers Federation, and WoolProducers Australia all said it was an individual decision for each grower.
The influence of the significant WA discontent will be revealed on Friday, when AWI presents the complete voter breakdown of levy support at its AGM.
During the voting period, WAFF called for growers to vote for a 1pc levy to send a clear message to AWI that its focus must be on research and development for growers, rather than marketing overseas.
PGA called on its members to vote no more than 1pc to send a strong message to AWI that it needed to revisit its business plan. It was the first time PGA had supported a levy.
PGA wool and livestock committee chairman Digby Stretch, Kojonup, WA said 2pc was a return to the status quo, which meant every 50th bale that went out of a woolgrowers’ shed had AWI written on it.
“I’d remind AWI and all levy-payers 2pc of our gross before anybody else any cheques is a lot of money and we do demand accountability and transparency,” he said.
Australian Wool Growers Association’s Shane Edwards, based in WA, said the result was probably expected but now that AWI had the 2pc levy endorsed, and was drawing down on its $100m reserves, it needed to source more R&D projects on growers’ behalf.
“The whole INF2 is still an issue out there. For WAFF or AWGA or any other industry group, I don’t think that’s gone away,” he said.
Mr Edwards said the discontent in the west could have been fuelled by the INF2 decision and the perception that superfine growers were benefitting from much of AWI’s marketing efforts and not mid-micron products or growers.
“A lot of people might think they are not getting value for money from their levy,” he said.
“AWI has been quite reluctant to release the results any sooner than they have to and likewise with the further information on where all the votes ended up.
“There’s no doubt they have reasons for drawing things out. Why wouldn’t they announce it earlier if they had such a good turnout?”