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Marlborough shearer Angus Moore, winner of the PGG Wrightson Wool National Shearing Circuit final at the Golden Shears in March. Photo / Pete Nikolaison
26 June 2020

Shearing competition opener cancelled

Traditional shearing competitions season-opener, the New Zealand Merino Shears has been cancelled this year, as organisers work to mark its 60th anniversary post-Covid in style in 2021.

The championships in Alexandra were to have been held on October 2-3.

The NZ Merino Shears usually attracts over 100 shearers and woolhandlers and is the only fine wool competition on the Shearing Sports New Zealand calendar of almost 60 shows each summer.

The cancellation has also led to the axing of the 2020-2021 National Shearing Circuit, of which Alexandra has been the traditional compulsory opening round.

It also impacts on the annual home-and-away transtasman series, with the two competitions providing two of the three shearers in the New Zealand team each summer.

Incorporating a final for the McSkimming Memorial Triple Crown at the Golden Shears each March since 1973, the circuit had already been hit by the cancellation of this year's New Zealand Agricultural Show which would have staged third-round event the New Zealand Corriedale Championships.

The cancellation of the Alexandra event was confirmed by New Zealand Merino Shearing Society chairman Greg Stuart who said it was "due to the pandemic".

The Covid-19 crisis has had severe impacts, as it had across the country and the world, he said, and his committee "needed to make the call" about an event which runs on a budget of up to $50,000 – at a time when the lockdown made negotiations almost impossible.

The committee didn't want to "embarrass" or pressure anyone and decided it wanted to guarantee still being around for the 60th year, particularly for the sake of those who had supported the event over the years.

"Some of them have been with us from way back," Stuart said.

The National Shearing Circuit committee is also due to meet in the next fortnight to consider the possibilities as the event heads to the celebration of its first 50 years, including the last 18 known as the PGG Wrightson National.

PGG Wrightson Wool have been sponsors at all five shows in the circuit, along with providing the major prize of a year's use of a Hyundai Santa Fe for the winner, currently Marlborough shearer Angus Moore, who won this year's final less than three weeks before the Covid-19 lockdown.

Meanwhile, the Waimate Shears, which would have included the second round of the circuit, will is "definitely" on October 9-10, said chairman Warren White.

Canterbury show shearing organisers are considering still staging their championships, in a woolshed at the station which provides its sheep.

Later in the season, the Rangitikei Shearing Sports in Marton in February, which would have been the fourth round, will be held on a Sunday as shows avoid a clash caused by the timing of Waitangi Day.

It will provide three competitions within three days with Dannevirke A and P Show on a Friday (February 5), the Aria Waitangi Day Sports on the Saturday (February 6) and the Rangitikei event on February 7.

Photo credit

Marlborough shearer Angus Moore, winner of the PGG Wrightson Wool National Shearing Circuit final at the Golden Shears in March. Photo / Pete Nikolaison


Credit: Article by NZ Herald / The Country

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Hard Work Pays Off

09 June 2020

PGG Wrightson Wool general manager Grant Edwards said it was thanks to the hard work between the industry and MPI that the wool supply chain has been able to work through the different status levels caused by Covid-19.

Under alert level four they were able to shear sheep where required and mobilise the delivery of high density scoured bales for wool shipments to meet contractual export agreements.

Under alert level three wool stores were able to operate. Wool scouring and wool dumping also recommenced.

He said MPI provided direct guidance on what could and could not operate under the different status levels and further outlined the strict protocols that the industry has operated under.

“Largely, overseas wool markets have been closed although some future business is now being written with China.”

Many overseas clients are also requesting delayed shipments for contracts.

No auction sales were held throughout April, but they resumed late May with one North Island sale and one in the South Island.

Edwards said working and interacting with each other was important in the timing and volumes offered at these auction sales, as was the need to take into account farmer cashflows.

“It is a matter of balancing the unknown nature of future market levels with a responsible auction sale programme.”

Rural Livestock’s Simon Cox said the timing of lockdown did take some pressure off the meatworks because they were limited for space.

“Combine that with lack of feed from droughts, and then add in lockdown, and it was the perfect storm.”

Despite this, he said it was a tough few weeks, and everyone worked hard to ensure they got through it.

He said 70% of their business is usually done outside of the yards, and during lockdown there were lots of calves to shift which would have gone to the sales.

“It was hard work, but my guys were able to get on with it and move pretty much everything privately.

There was a lot of phone work, but we got there.”

As an essential service, there was extensive logging of his staff’s movements.

“We were planning 10 days prior to lockdown, saying ‘what if what if.’”

Cox said during the first week, Steve Morrison of NZ Stock and Station Association did a fantastic job keeping in touch with the Ministry of Health, MPI and the Stock and Station firms concerned.

The meat companies operated at 50% then 75%, so there was a shortage of space to process prime stock.

He expects June bull sales to operate at some sort of normality and will be dependent on New Zealand operating at alert level 2 or less. Online sales have been a successful option too.

Veterinarians are used to working at a fast pace, but during lockdown this was not possible.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Veterinary Association said most consults were conducted over the phone or video call, and individual clients were only allowed to enter the building when absolutely necessary.

For many owners this meant dropping their pet at the door and sitting in the car for a phone interview with the vet seeing their pet inside.

Delaying non-urgent appointments and procedures and avoiding interaction with people wherever possible meant clinic doors stayed closed.

An unavoidable home visit meant pet owners often putting their animal outside while speaking to the veterinarian over the phone or through a window. A house or ‘bubble’ entry required full PPE.

It was easier for the large animal veterinarians, as physical distances were much easier to maintain outdoors.

Revenue is down at Farmlands due to the lockdown. Droughts hit revenue pre Covid-19.

Chief executive Peter Riedie said less foot traffic for retail and a hit to their card and fuel businesses also made a significant impact.

A click and collect service at Farmlands meant they could operate as an essential service under lockdown and into alert level four, and into level three where stores were still closed.

Staff movements were restricted, some shareholders still required on-site access for decision making, and field staff visited sites under stringent conditions which included no physical interaction. 

The temporary webstore did four times the volume of sales in one week than it did in an entire year.

“That is a huge change in buyer behaviour and it remains to be seen if this will be a long-term change.”

The first day of trading under alert Level 2 was encouraging but not their busiest day by any stretch.

“We do not expect to see a significant uplift on the back of the move to Level 2.”

Farmlands applied for and was granted a wage subsidy by the Government.

Riedie said the co-operative will need to adapt to the changing behaviours and requirements of shareholders as they deal with uncertainty surrounding exports and global factors.

“We have to look at our ways of operating and cost base to ensure we get through this.”

Assessing the future of Saturday trade at some of their stores will be part of this. 


Written by Annabelle Latz
Supplied by Country Wide

Wool market slow to bounce back

29 May 2020

PGG Wrightson GM for wool, Grant Edwards joins The Country's Jamie Mackay to look at how the wool market is faring this month, post New Zealand's Covid-19 lockdown.

Mackay said the wool market was in real trouble as it was down 25 per cent from where it was in late February and early March. Two recent auctions saw full length crossbred fleece least affected and strong lamb's wool suffering the most, taking a 35-40 per cent hit.

New Zealand was not alone, as Australian wool prices had also taken a hit and fine wool prices had halved since September 2019, said Mackay.

For some historic perspective Mackay spoke of 1968 where he would get NZD $5 at auction for strong wool, and that same wool today was estimated to get NZD $1.70 a kilo.

Edwards talked about how Covid-19 had impacted the supply chain as New Zealand wool ends up in end-garments, carpets and upholstery throughout Europe and USA and key end-user markets, which had been shut down and were only now starting to open again.

Edwards believed there would be a bounce-back after Covid-19 and when trade started to resume. It was going to come down to timing of when and where.

Edwards was convinced that the long term outcome for wool was very positive because of wool's sustainability and environmentally friendly properties, especially with the younger generation being more conscious of their product consumption and usage.

For more Information on New Zealand's Covid19 response and Alert Levels please visit covid19.govt.nz/

Wool Report: A slumped market

29 June 2020

This week PGG Wrightson's South Island wool procurement manager Rob Cochrane joins The Country's Jamie Mackay to look at the wool market this month.

The 2019/20 wool season wrapped up yesterday with 17 thousand bales on offer across both islands, and there are a lot of growers still resisting and holding onto wool.

Mid-micron and crossbreed growers may be concerned that they were losing as much as 50 per cent compared to last year, Cochrane said.

Mackay said that from a historical perspective, the wool market had never seen a slump like this.

Cochrane agreed, reflecting back on 1969 when wool prices were around 23 cents per pound.

It was criminal that prices continued to fall, Mackay said, with Covid-19 still affecting the market in terms of boarder restrictions, imports, and offshore processing.

Cochrane added perspective by saying the price of wool had gradually been going down over the past few years, and people don't necessarily have the money to buy wool.

Mackay noted that until there were alternate sustainable long-term uses for crossbreed wool, the industry was "buggered".

Cochrane agreed, but stressed that traditional uses of wool, such as carpet and internal furnishings would still help the industry in the long run.

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