For strong wool sheep, lice infection is a nuisance more than a hefty financial cost. But, for fine wool sheep the financial toll is much greater.
He thinks the recent Wool Summit and the consequent working groups to be set up are a “very good idea”.
“Who knows what will become of it, but I think the fact of getting everyone together and getting a bit of airplay together is part of the key to it. I think it is an excellent initiative,” Whiteman told Rural News.
“The wool industry has been a bit maligned in the past, portraying it as more factional than it really is.
“Lots of people say there are 25 exporters; technically there probably are 25 registered, but probably four or five of us do 85% of the wool. So it is not as diverse and broken up as you might think.
“The people who are left are a bit bigger so having people who are responsible for more wool collectively is good.”
Whiteman says trying to bring together people in the industry is now easier. “We don’t have to corral so many people anymore because the wool business in New Zealand has shrunk.”
Some exporters were initially miffed at not being included in the Wool Summit organised by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Conner and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), but Whiteman says “we are in the system now and that is fine”.
“It might have been an oversight, but we have had contact with the minister since so no harm done.”
MPI is currently working with industry members to set up a working group to focus on key priorities that came out of the summit and resulting feedback, a spokesperson told Rural News.
“It is intended that this group be industry led, with MPI acting as a connector and facilitator. The membership of the wool working group will be announced after the group has met formally.”