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Woolgrowers' Meeting.

A largely attended meeting of the woolgrowers of .Ashburton county was held on Saturday afternoon m the Orange S Hall. The meeting had been convened by Mr Murdoch Bruce, Chairman of the. Wakauui Road Board, And was called for the object, of considering the questioi]i which had been the subject of recent voluminous correspondence between the woolbrokera m Ashburtori.and the woolbuyers iii Christnhurch— viz., the rcsolu* tion of the latter to refrain from attending (.lie public wool sales hitherto lichl at Ashbiu'ton, Anibarky,, and- .Ramjiora The correspondence has already been published m our columns, and alao been extensively circulated amonj; the farmers m pamphlet form. The Chairman shortly' detailed the. position as shown by the correspondence, and pointed out the disadvantages under which the Ashburton woolgrowers would lie were the situation "accepted as sought r,o be brought about by the woolgrowers. There were three courses open to the growers—to send the wool fco Christchurch to be sold as dictated by the woolbuyers ; to collect it into one body and send it to the London market direct; or to sell; it privately. Doubtless there were some farmers present who had something ,to propose, and ho had convened this meeting so that an expression of their opinion could be obtianed. ■ : Mr James Brown, Wakanui, was glad the Chairman had convened the meeting. The correspondence, which- he had read looked very much/ like as if the buyers intended giving them a taste of the boycott. He could see no reason why the sales of wool m Ashburton should be discontinued. They had been very satisfactory, he thought. At anyrace he had sold wool here| and had beon pleased with the results. Ashburton was a place well suited for an annual series' of wool sales, seeing that it was central, was upon the main line of railway, and had plenty of storage room. He thought it was the duty of the farmers to back up the local merchants here, and not to play into the .-hands of the Christchurch merchants and the buyers. It might suit Christchurch very well to be the common centre to which all the wool •should gravitate for sale, but that would not suit the convenience of the Wakanui farmers at all. He supposed all the farmers had read the correspondence, aiid would n,ofc therefore go over it, but would content himself Avith moving the following resolution:— "That this meeting having considered the correspondence which has passed between the wool buyers and the merchants of Ashbiirton, is of opinion that the arguments sot forth by the merchants are fair and reasonable, seeing that Ashburton is the centre of a very large district, with a woollen mill consuming £10,000 or £12,000 worth of wool a year, and will do its best to maintain' the auction sales at A shburton and advises the merchants . to endeavour to remedy the grievances complained of, viz—the want of sufficient light, and dates of sales to suit the convenience of buyers." Mr G, W. Leadley seconded the resolution. He thought they would all agree with him that a great mistake would be made if the wool sales wero allowed to be discontinued, for this was a large district, and the sales were. well established. It' would-not do to allow this intended boy-' cott to succeed, for if it-did succeed now the farmers would ne*er have another chance to start the sales m Ashburton, but would have to keep on sending their wool to Christchurch. He would advise, m the event of the wool buyers still persisting m the boycott, putting the wool m the- hands of thn local s'llesinnn and sending the whole Home to the London market. If the buyers persisted m the boycott, then the f aimers, vould have to protect themselves by boycotting the buyers. Mr Lambie suggested that the fullest publicity should bo given to this resolution : and it should be sulvcrtised m ajl the papers that the sales wore still to go on. The resolution was carried unanimously. The Chairman- invited any of the merchants present to speak upon the question. Mr Huso Fricdlander would not go over the whole of the correspondence, but would read the concluding part of the buyers' letter:— The substance of this will appear m public print, and we hope the Ashburton brokers .will accept this m reply to their voluminous letter, the argument of which scarcely calls for a reply. This was tlie old proverb over again of the kettle calling the pot black, and there was no reason m their argument at all. It was stated by the buyers 'that, the sales wero a great inconvenience to them because Wellington had stepped m now and hacVoffered 4000 bales, ; therefore all other sale& must go under. This was a piece of presumption, as we had been, several years m the field. The brokers did not ask that Wellington should give way, or that any sales should give way, but only that thoy should arrange the sales so that they might not clash. It, was stated that competition was limited , at these country sales, and that, the \ grower was greatly the loser ; but it was a fact that the prices obtained at Ashburton had been satisfactory all the same, even if the buyers who did attend had it all.their own way. The buyers m their letter said the stores were not arranged well, yet no complaint of this kind had been made for four years, and every buyer he knew that had attended the 1 sales had admitted the excellence of the stores. If there had not been sufficient light, as stated, it required only to have betn mentioned, and.a sheet or two of iron would have been. taken off to admit] abundance of light. The speaker then quoted from the president's speech at the Christchurch Chamber of Commerce on the subject of the attempt on the part of London buyprs to concentrate tho. whole wool sales of the world m London. The samo thing, . (said Mr Priedtandcr) applied m this instance as between Christchurch and the provincial sales. If it was right to oppose the London brokers m their attempt to stop the sales through-. out Australasia, it was equally, right to oppose the attempt to centralise the sales m Canterbury m Christchurch, for it was infinitely better for the farmers that their' wool should be sold at their own doors and under their own eyes, <If the wool must go to Hhristchurcn, seventy-five pier cent of the farmers would not be able to attend the sales, and if every farmer were required togotoChristehurch to look after his own interests m the sale of (his wool, an expenditure for the journeys of mai>y hundreds of pounds would be imvarred, which would be so much money thrown away, while an expenditure • of only a few shillings would be required on the part of each of the half doron or so buyers. He would state on the part'of his firm that, m the event of such a course being necessary they would value the wool with the farmers, fix a reaeive, and ship the wool home, free of all receiving and delivery charges. (Applause.) Mr David Thomas said the wool must be either sold or shipped, and if the farmers now stuck to the agents there ts^s no fear but the sales would be held as before. When he first began wool sales m Ashburton they wors i^et with great opposition, and h.e was called ■ a fool for his pains. - But at his first sale, there was reajly. only one buyer, and he had a moat successful sale. (Laughter.) Afc.ohe second there was a knock o,ut among the , buyers, but only two b^^fts operated ; still the sale was $uee&ssftu\ The buyers now said thoy< had no time to come to countey aaies, and m a conversation with tl«* Rtecretary to the buyers'associatiojn, that gentleman had mentioned bkeuWms of-WfcHinqtou to the speak'ev. H« had also pointed out that there, was a charge of .fa^on^ es<& (

bale, which was absurd, for transit between Ashburton and Christchurch, and tins charge the buyers thought the farmers ought to pay, because wool realised ns much m Ashburton as Christchurch, whilst ■aelling m Christchurch would shift this charge on to the v farmers' shoulders at once. There would be big catalogues at Christchurch, and that, it was contended ■would mean big competition, but ifc would not mean. any higher priceß for the farmers. As a commentary on tho argumeut about want of time, he would sk'ite that he had heard of a proposal irale to hold fortnightly sales n Christchurch .'"They bad beeiitoltUhat'the buyers were quite-.unanimous m theii 1 resolution to boycott th<a * three country B.vl«'. .Whoa tho buyers voted,on,this resolution; they wer.o ko unanimous ihut four were'for if, and three walked out of the room, When it was. tried to force a wrong kind of unionism upon, him (Mr Thomas) ho put his foot', dotfh,' and he woullpl hold sales m bpite of aft opposition. The wool sales m Ashburton had steadily risen m popularity among the farmers. At the first sale 400 bales had been catalogued, the second calle4 out 7jOQ,.the third 2000, thi fourth 3WO and-about 1000 sold privately at the*'end of the season. 'The farmers realised was to their advantage,to send' their wool to the' local market to be disposed of. under their own personal supervision ; »nd if they werel m a position to personally attend the London wool sales the results to them would be very different to what th«y had been m the pant As an/educator, too, tho local sales had been productive of good, by the opportunities they gave for comparison.- Nearly every: farmer knew the value of grain, but not one m ten knew the exact value of wool, and when they saw the, wool sold alongside that of other sellers they could then form a better opinion of the relative values, and being, personally at the sals, after the wool was displayed, they would then be m a position to place properiand fair reserves on the same.. It, was to the interest of farmers to hold sales' m 'Ashburton, because every bale was valued, and every farmer was at liberty .to ask his agent what he valued his wool at. Buyers admitted they gave: the same prices m Christchurch as they did at Ashburton. The idea was to make Chriitchurch like Melbourne as regards a great wool centre, but New Zealand could never become like Melbourne, because here a sale must be held at every port. This was the advice of the buyers $o the farmers : " We want larger catalogues and more competition so as to enture higher prices for the wool !" How much truth there was m this argument he would leave those present to work out for themselves, merely premising that most of the buyers were Yorkshire men who, somehow qr other/ have got the name of being particularly well able to look after their own interests —and other people's %lsp, if tliey would let them.' (Laughter). He would treat the farmers m the same way he had always done, and he believed that every bale would be sold without a. farthing's low to them. „ •'■ ;. , . ;-'O Mr George Jameson said if thejfftrjlera were unanimous, the sales .would go pn as usual.. The sales had never been fixed before consultation with the buyers as to the dates,. Hp had never heard any complaints about light m the sheds before this correspondence, and he was alsvays ready to provide more light if wanted..' Mr Tlioinas said the complaints about proper lighting were absurd. As. |m as ha was concerned his stores were the best lighted wool stores m Canterburj\ having been specially built for the purpose and he aught to know something abpyjt ifc as he had ten years' experience of the wool. siilcs iii Christchurch. Last season, being: full up with grain, he had built a newwool store, capable of holding 450 bales which for purposes of displaying wool couldn't be beaten either m Canterbuiy or Melbourne. • Mrtl. W; Leadley suggested that, to give the buyers an idea of the quantity of wool that would be for disposal, a list of the number of bales available this. year should be obtained at puce. Mr Brown hardly thought this* would •erve the purpose, as the meeting, though Urge, didnotrepesenta quarter of the Wool grown m the district that would be available at the. sale. , The best criterion would bo the,amount shorn last year* oa which he expected, there would be rather an increase than otherwise. He thought tkft meeting should pledge itself thatj should the sales be boycotted this year, th«* wool grown here would be shipped to London* They may have to wait a little longer for their returns, but they would get rid'of these agents and not lose a penny. : Mr Leadley, m view of the fact that fcli« meeting did not represent a sumcienjty' large proportion of the wool grown ia tinedistrict would withdraw his* suggestion,, but hoped Mr Brown's suggestion* as to. sending the wool to London would become a resolution and be carried. Mr W. C. Walker was glad to see Mr Leadley's suggestion withdrawn. Thora ought to be full confidence between the producers and the brokers. The sales had been going on for the past five yearn, and the merchants had advertised, for the growers' information, the correspondence between themselves and the buyers, as well as their own determination to hold sales m spite of all that had been threatened. The meeting then heUfc would have its effect m supporting tK& decision of the merchants. If this district, did its business at first hand it wouW be; all the better. Mr Friedlander hadquoted from the well put remarks of the,Cbut>nuui< of the Chamber of Commerce shoving the advantage of selling here; but some <& the largest, industries seem to go oa m the old way and fail to see the advantage of selling under their, own eyes. 'Xhtfa was great advantage m selling m a counter town, and if there was, wool to sell there would always be men to come to bay. If they had another season such as last" buyers would come from a long way farther off than Christoburch to buy.. • The wool here was good 1 wool, and if they made up their minds to hold, their sal&t m Ashburtoa,. they were bound to hare buyers attend them. Mr McElrea wished to know at wW door lay the blame of this aqjitatkm—tfe hoyers themselves or the/brokeri i a Christchurch, (Laughter). •. ■ ■ Mr Stephen Chapman would move:— "That this meeting of Tdrodgrowers pledges itself to support the Ashbnrton wool safes,, and, failing to effect,a,sale m Ashbution, ! that we forward our wool direct to London. A copy qi this resolution to be forwarded t» each wool buyer." . .. . '„..' .There was too great a number of lanse clients at the Christchurch sales, and their wool claimed so much attention that the farmer had to, go to the background. R© would prefer to see the wool sold wh©r© he could approach the buyer He thought the resolution should be sent to each woolbuyer. , Mr John Boyle, haying.Seconded, tho resolution was? carried unanimously TheChainnjia.moveda.voteof thanks, to and confidence m the. Ashburbon mer~ 1 w*rtH***> nad always met them f mtH v. ■ W-Wow moved a vote of thankaito , tfh* Chairman for convening arid prwuU--1 Big at the meeting. . >,: ' I"s"u^ Both votes were carried by acclamation, and the meeting terminated.

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Bibliographic details

Woolgrowers' Meeting., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2536, 6 October 1890

Word Count

Woolgrowers' Meeting. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2536, 6 October 1890

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