Wool News: Staff Profile - Marcus Loader Believing in our fibre
“We need to believe in what we produce. When you look at competing synthetic products, they are promoted by big companies. Those that shout the loudest sell the most. We need to learn how to market wool positively. To make sure we are heard by the population we need to believe in our sustainable, renewable, natural, biodegradable fibre, and tell our story,” he says.
Marcus has been PGG Wrightson wool representative for Wairarapa, based in Masterton, since 2010.
After growing up on a local sheep and beef property, managed by his father, Marcus always knew his future was in agriculture, though after being among the last graduates of the Massey Wool Diploma in 1990, he took a 15 year detour into dairy farming, heading to the Waikato to milk cows.
“We moved into sharemilking, and owned a 150 cow farm for three years, though staff became a massive issue, and we wanted to come back to Wairarapa. Fortunately the shares and land values peaked in 2006, while the payout was declining, and we sold up at just the right time,” he says.
Back to his home region, Marcus wouldn’t swap.
“It is a renowned farming district with genuine strong hill country, and the farms are well cared for.
“On the coastal country with its wind we can grow the brightest, whitest wool. I drive around 70,000 kilometres per annum, and it’s a very nice part of New Zealand to do that mileage in. I enjoy the countryside and visiting well looked-after properties,” he says.
Despite the winning vistas and well-tended farms, low returns are a challenge.
“In the more marginal parts of the region, forestry and carbon credits have driven significant land use change recently. In some parts of Pongaroa you’re looking at miles of dots: several farms, a huge area, all sold for trees. While the previous owners decided to sell for genuine reasons, it is difficult to see these properties taken out of farming.
“Fortunately, we still have plenty of good farmers out there growing a genuine product. Some show the benefits of 30 years of genetics, improving their clip out of all recognition, sticking to strong wool, growing for wool weight, keeping faith in our fibre.
“A good percentage of farmers still believe wool will come back. While we have that, there is hope. So many excellent farmers have put so much in with genetics, ultimately they will receive the rewards they deserve, though unfortunately that is just not quite yet,” says Marcus.
His advice to wool growers is consistent.
“I tell all my clients to keep producing the best product they can, then through careful shed hand work make sure the presentation is the best it can be. In a tough marketplace the best quality product is the easiest to sell,” he says.