Strong wool makes up 85 per cent of wool production – four years ago it sold for over $4.00 a kilo, now its forecast to be worth under $1.50 this year.
Wool Farmer Tom O’Sullivan says shearing costs have increased in that time by up to 30 per cent.
“For my business last year we are talking tens of thousands of dollars to shear the sheep,” he says.
Farmers are looking at alternative sheep breeds that shed wool, to save money.
Westpac Agri Economist Nathan Penny says meat incomes should make up for those losses.
“If you think about their overall incomes, their meat incomes will be good. Increasingly for many farmers their wool income will be small, that’s likely to stay the same but overall on a balance the outlook for their incomes is quite firm.”
The Government is now coming up with a strategy to revitalise the wool industry, following a report by an advisory group last year.
But wool advocate Craig Smith from the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interest says the Government can start now, by using natural wool carpets and insulation in their new builds.
“I’ll be the first to admit that’s not really going to change the price of wool overnight but what it will do is show that the Government is actually backing everything they are saying.”
O’Sullivan wants everyone to use the sustainable product more and move away from synthetic materials like nylon carpets that contain plastics.
“So we are trying to change that mindset and I guess educate consumers… yes a plastic bag is plastic but so is a synthetic carpet.”
All admit it’s not a quick fix in order to try to turn around a former giant of our economy.