President's Report

President's Report 

with Richard Halliday

Welcome to the first edition of the Wool Press.

The last 12 months have been buoyant for the industry with a sound wool market and strong sales of surplus stock giving many producers some much earned rewards from the wool industry. At present some areas of our country are again in the grips of dry times, we hope the rains are only a short time away for those producers.

This has been a busy year for WoolProducers Australia, we have focused on a number of issues across a range of sheep industry affairs, that we have conducted on behalf of Australian woolgrowers.

2017 has seen some changes to our board and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Max Watts and Mr Charlie Merriman for their long-term efforts and passion they have displayed as Directors to WoolProducers and the wider industry. Both Max and Charlie decided not to re-stand in the 2017 Independent Director Elections.

During their time as WPA Directors, the industry has seen many challengers, which they have assisted WoolProducers in navigating on behalf of growers. Their efforts will be missed going forward. On behalf of past and present Directors and staff, I would like to wish you both well in your future endeavours.

I would also like to welcome Mr John Hassall and Mr Jamie Rowe to the Board. Both John and Jamie bring a range of skills and experience that will complement the existing skill set of the incumbent Directors.

Internal operations

Currently the organisation is more stable and accountable than in previous years, making us more effective in our ability to represent our members and addressing their needs by advocating on their behalf.

This year has seen us continue to implement the WoolProducers Strategic Plan, which will help guide over the coming years. We thank our members for their input in the development of this plan.

The organisation is fortunate to have three staff, CEO Jo Hall, Policy Director, Amanda Olthof and Policy Officer, Teresa Hogan working for us. All three have the same passion as our Directors to ensure the wool industry has a positive future.

Trade

WoolProducers, are the Australian grower representative to IWTO on the Biosecurity Working Group, Sustainable Practices Working Group and the Grower Forum. WoolProducers provides the chair and secretariat to the Growers Forum and this year has seen an overhaul of the operations of this Forum, under WoolProducers leadership with future forums concentrating on one or two countries giving a much more in-depth presentation of what is happening in their industry. This will assist other grower participants a much wider appreciation of issues faced in individual countries. The Growers Forum was also opened to general attendance at the last meeting, which saw a much higher turnout which was a pleasing result.

Industry Structures

An important part of industry is working towards unity, and WoolProducers have continued to lead this issue through being open to working with other groups to provide a single voice and consistent message.

I believe WoolProducers efforts were demonstrated with the Shearing Safety Summit held in May, which was a great example of what can be achieved on behalf of industry.

The effectiveness of the WoolProducers Animal Health and Welfare Advisory Committee continues to develop, with more groups having believed in this process. All of these efforts only help to strengthen our industry and organisation.

Representation and advocacy

WoolProducers continue to have discussions with Ministers, Senators and government agencies in regards to many issues including an oversight mechanism for the wool industry, stronger governance and more transparency in the operations of AWI.

These issues are all part of the concern we have held for a long time, being that the current form of consultation is not what we would consider to be ‘effective’. Strengthening consultation between industry and the wool industry Research and Development Corporation would ensure expenditure aligns with industry priorities.

WoolProducers continue to lobby AWI to make the Industry Consultative Committee (ICC) far more robust and consultative. WoolProducers has tabled a paper at the ICC outlining potential reforms that will be considered by other participants.

In December last year, Jo and myself travelled to Biella, Italy to attend the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) Roundtable to discuss a number of issues, mainly related to animal welfare and biosecurity. It was interesting to hear directly from the Europeans about their concerns with mulesing and the perception that Australia was not addressing their concerns.

WoolProducers continues to represent growers at the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA), Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX), Federation of Australian Wool Organisations (FAWO), Animal Health Australia (AHA), National Farmers Federation (NFF) and IWTO, as well as the ICC, as this is our duty on behalf of growers and are not duties that are taken lightly.

Some of the industry issues which we have continued to work on this year are the increased use of the National Wool Declaration (NWD). We have focussed messaging around strongly encouraging the use of the document for all types of wool and the support of an education program moving toward a mandated program that every grower is part of. It is so important for us as an industry, to explain clearly what we do in the production of wool.

WoolProducers has also been involved in the Wool Exchange Portal (WEP, now known as Wool Q) working group representing grower interests and relaying thoughts and concern aiming to put across messages for positive outcomes for Australian wool growers. As part of this working group we lobbied to have a business case of the WEP presented, which was completed. Whilst this project is proceeding it was important for the business case and benefit/cost analysis work to be conducted as this involves a large investment by the growers through our levies.

As mentioned earlier, drugs and alcohol in the shearing industry has been an issued we have worked on, this follows on from our collaboration with the shearing industry through the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia and the Western Australian Shearing Industry Association that was started with the shared responsibilities poster, which was very well received. The results of the drug and alcohol policy will be interesting to follow. AWI have given support for the poster to be distributed in the Beyond the Bale publication.

WoolProducers have also provided submissions into a diverse range of consultative processes ranging from the Wool Classers Code of Practice through to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) review into Agricultural Levies, National Wool Declaration review, Animal Health Australia’s review of performance to name a few.

Emergency Animal Disease Preparedness and Response

WoolProducers obligations under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) sees WoolProducers liaise with other industry groups and government stakeholders to ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency animal disease incursion.

WoolProducers have continued to work with wool industry groups post-farm gate, to ensure there is a clear understanding of our roles and responsibilities are totally understood in the event of an incursion.

The Crisis Response Plan has been developed with the sheepmeat industry thus removing a lot of the duplication that has occurred in the past.

Some issues around compensation and valuation are still to be finalised, but rest assured we have not let go of this issue.

Four more participants attended the real-time training in Nepal. Including livestock agents and woolgrowers, thereby increasing our reserve of people who have undertaken that level of training. The work which has been conducted in this space has broadened the relationship within the supply chain.

Market Access Support

2017 has seen WoolProducers continue our support for the National Wild Dog Action Plan (NWDAP). This is a success story for WoolProducers with our involvement from inception, we are extremely aware that this issues still has a lot of work to be done and it’s our responsibility to continue and support the program for the future of wool production in many areas of our country.

The funding of the Wellness Programme at the Sheep CRC continues as the project moves towards commercialisation, there are some interesting ideas coming forward around digital assistance for management. We will continue to the end and also be aware of any legacies there may be out there. WoolProducers continues to monitor the outcomes of the projects conducted under this Programme through the Project Research Review Committee.

Mulesing accreditation training development is still in progress we are hopeful this can deliver improvements in sheep welfare, and also strengthen our reputation as an industry whose focus is on improving animal welfare outcomes.

Biosecurity

WoolProducers are pleased to work on behalf of industry in the review of the Sheep Health Project and the NSHMP review as a positive outcome for growers in terms of a return on investment is important.

We will continue to work towards a cost-effective biosecurity strategy for the sheep industry. The project will facilitate greater collaboration and coordination between jurisdictions, and highlight areas where synergies exist while identifying gaps in existing protocols. As a result, it is expected that efficiencies and more effective cross border collaboration will serve to manage the spread of endemic sheep diseases while improving the capacity of regulators to effectively control and eradicate emergency animal diseases should there be an incursion.

WoolProducers were a participant in the review of the Sheep Health Declaration aiming to help growers manage on-farm bio security.

So as 2017 closes on a high for many with the wool market continuing to climb, we look forward to 2018. The Board and staff and WoolProducers Australia wish you a all a safe and well deserved break with your loved ones.


Chief Executive Officer Report

Chief Executive Officer Report

with Jo Hall

Welcome to the first edition of The WoolPress. This is the first of a quarterly newsletter from the peak representative body WoolProducers Australia.

We have sought articles from a range of industry partners and stakeholders, to showcase the diverse, vibrant and at times challenging industry and environment that we operate in. Currently there are many things to celebrate in our great industry and in the wider agricultural sector, which has been the fastest growing sector in our economy, whose value has increased a staggering 23% in the past financial year.

 

WoolProducers has had a positive year and has worked hard representing the interests of Australian woolgrowers on a range of issues, from industry systems, such as the National Wool Declaration, the Wool Exchange Portal (now known as Wool Q) and agricultural levies review, through to animal health, welfare and biosecurity issues, including Emergency Animal Disease preparedness, the National Sheep Health Monitoring Project and wild dog mitigation. For an overview of WoolProducers’ activities for the 2016/17 year, please click here.

 

WoolProducers also launched our revamped website and new Facebook page, to better communicate our organisation and our activities. We hope that you take the time to check these out, along with following us on Twitter.

 

WoolProducers has a small, but extremely dedicated staff of three, and a Board of ten passionate Directors. Our Directors all freely give their time to represent woolgrowers. WoolProducers Directors, largely work on a volunteer basis on behalf of industry, which at times can be a thankless job, but at other times it can also be incredibly rewarding. It is a pleasure to work with such committed staff and Directors, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank them and acknowledge their efforts.

 

We look forward to continuing our work in 2018. A highlight for WoolProducers will be the launch our ‘Raising the Baa’ project, which is a project under the Commonwealth’s Leadership in Agriculture Fund. This important project will look to address the gap in industry capacity building and will provide an opportunity to upskill a number of woolgrowers in the areas of representation, with a strong focus on corporate governance and directorship skills.

 

2018 is also important to the wool industry, in that WoolPoll, the triennial vote to determine the compulsory levy that woolgrowers pay to research, development and marketing, will be conducted. WoolProducers will be busy ensuring that woolgrowers understand the mechanisms and operations of this important vote.

 

It is a wonderful time to be involved in the wool industry, with the Eastern Market Indicator closing the calendar year on 1760c/kilogram clean. The first half of the 2017/18 financial year has resulted in a staggering $1.6 billion of Australian wool being sold – may well these prices continue. It is very satisfying to finish the year on such a positive note.

 

On behalf of WoolProducers, I would like to wish you and your family a fantastic and safe festive season! We hope that you have favourable weather conditions wherever you are and take the time to relax. We look forward to working with you and on your behalf in 2018.

 

 


AgForce Queensland

Queensland sheep industry continues to rebuild

Agforce Sheep and Wool Committee 2017

AgForce Sheep and Wool and WoolProducers Australia Board Member, Jim McKenzie

 

The most recent Agricultural Census saw Queensland take the mantle as the nation’s most valuable agricultural state, and while beef is our biggest commodity, many  primary producers in pastoral areas are moving back into sheep.

The revitalisation of Queensland’s sheep and wool industry this year has come on the back of the Government(s) financially-backed opportunity to build exclusion fences, that has provided producers with greater control of wild dogs, and therefore improved producer confidence to run a sheep and wool enterprise.

More than 200,000 head of sheep have been added to the state’s flock as more than 7500 kilometre of fencing is built throughout regional communities.

 

For producers who have built fences, the results have been amazing with lambing percentages going from less than 20 per cent to more than 90 per cent.

AgForce is extremely grateful for the Federal and State Government funding to date, and was pleased to see that during the recent State Election campaign, both sides of politics supported the continued roll out of cluster fencing.

While the re-elected Palaszczuk Government’s commitment of $5 million over two years is welcome, we’d like to see an ongoing, annual commitment of $5 million to meet the enormous demand from producers and get the job done once and for all.

The AgForce Sheep & Wool Board had three very successful

 

Board meetings this year with two of these being in Charleville in July and Blackall in October.  A great way for Board Members to speak with grass-roots sheep producers to seek opinions and disseminate industry information.  In doing so, we have taken the opportunity to speak about shearer and shed-hand training, and encourage Queensland’s sheep producers to accurately complete the National Wool Declaration, the National Vendor Declaration and the National Sheep Health Declaration.

All of these documents form vital parts of a sheep enterprise’s ability to demonstrate good product integrity for the end user of our products, while also ensuring good on-farm

biosecurity practices to prevent the spread of disease.  Biosecurity planning workshops have also been a large part of AgForce’s decree this past 8 months, where 5,000 cattle and sheep producers across the State were engaged at approximately 35 workshops.

Finally, if we get some rain in Queensland’s drought declared areas, commodity prices stay strong and exclusion fencing continues to roll out, more and more broadacre primary producers will gain the confidence to run a sheep and wool enterprise once again.

As Queensland’s sheep numbers rebuild, we will help boost Queensland’s regional communities, bringing renewed prosperity and much needed increased employment opportunities.


Health & Welfare Update

Health & Welfare Update

WoolProducers representative participates in 'real time' Foot & Mouth Disease training in Nepal

with Amanda Olthof

Amanda Olthof, WoolProducers Policy Director along with nine other Australians recently participated in a 'real-time' training course on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in regional Nepal.

 

The training program has been developed and delivered by the European Commission for the Control of FMD (EuFMD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) with support from the Australian government. The training aims to improve Australia’s early detection and response capability for an FMD outbreak, while at the same time assisting with disease management in Nepal.

During the training in Nepal Amanda and fellow participants gained practical experience on how the disease symptoms develop in infected livestock including FMD lesion identification and ageing, lesion sampling, real-time FMD outbreak investigation to track the infection and consideration of appropriate disease control measures such as vaccination.

Most rural Nepalese are subsistence farmers and milk is an important food for the family; cows that recover from FMD usually suffer a permanent reduction in lactation, so the effects of infection are long-term. Uncontrolled movement of animals within the country and across borders facilitates the spread of FMD in Nepal. Cultural celebrations, including the ritual slaughter of imported FMD infected goats often initiate outbreaks in Nepalese villages.

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is the most significant biosecurity threat to Australia’s livestock industries, with recent ABARE modelling estimating that a large multi-state FMD outbreak would reduce Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.16 per cent or $23.6 billion in present value terms over 10 years.

A diagnosis of FMD or even a strong suspicion of FMD anywhere in Australia may result in a national livestock ‘standstill’, which means no movement of all species of animals susceptible to FMD for at least 72 hours, with dramatic consequences for all of us. “We hope it never happens, but through this program we have a network of people who are trained and know how to manage FMD outbreaks,” Amanda said.

The trip reinforced the need for strong biosecurity and the role that everyone plays in this age of shared responsibility. This can be as simple as correctly filling in NLIS and vendor declaration forms and requesting a Sheep Health Declaration when purchasing sheep.

Early reporting is vitally important. If you suspect FMD in any way, immediately call your vet or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888. Early reporting can make a huge difference to the size and cost of the outbreak.

WoolProducers Australia contributes on-going funding for industry participants to attend the training alongside government vets. Please contact Amanda for more information on the 2018 Real Time Training program in Nepal on 0428 910 275 or aolthof@woolproducers.com.au.

 


NSW Farmers

NSW Farmers in Focus

In 2017, NSW Farmers focused on ensuring that the interests of producers were accurately represented by industry groups in key policy debates including traceability, animal health and welfare, and industry accountability.

The NSW Farmers Wool Committee continued to work to ensure that NSW retained the mob-based, visual identification system for sheep and goat traceability in NSW. In 2017, NSW Farmers sustained the argument for the retention of the mob-based traceability system at the highest levels, and reiterated our support for a national traceability system that protects our industry.

NSW Farmers wool committee members touring Macdonald & Co woolstore in Dubbo

Animal wellbeing remains a key issue for the wool industry. NSW Farmers strongly encourages the use of pain relief when mulesing, and has lobbied for the National Wool Declaration (NWD) to be a mandatory requirement of sale, in order to drive uptake of the declaration. Growers are continually looking for premiums on non-mulesed wool and wool mulesed with pain relief, and greater uptake of the NWD will improve the industry’s transparency and allow for premiums to be delivered.

While the Australian Wool Exchange has not yet agreed to make the NWD mandatory, more growers are using the declaration to state the status of their clip. Recent statistics showed that over 60 per cent of bales are being declared, and NSW is performing well above average with almost 68 per cent declared. The number of growers declaring non-mulesed, ceased mulesed, or mulesed with pain relief has increased from the previous year.

The committee has been engaged with researchers and industry bodies to ensure that industry levies are delivering appropriate animal welfare outcomes for growers. The Chair wrote a column for The Land highlighting that change to animal management practices (e.g. ceasing mulesing) needed to be carefully managed, to ensure that there are not negative consequences for animal wellbeing.

The transparency and accountability of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) is important to the industry and the NSW Farmers Wool Committee continues to advocate for improvements as a priority. At our 2017 Annual Conference, delegates unanimously passed a motion calling for WPA to be appointed as the Representative Organisation to oversee the governance and expenditure of the wool levy. NSW Farmers strongly believes that give growers must have input and control over their levy, and ensure expenditure is accountable.

NSW Farmers continues to focus on ensuring that members have a greater understanding of the importance of producing wool to meet market requirements. The committee met with wool buyers to discuss key messages for growers looking to maximise the return from their clips, including preparing wool according to the code of practice to maximise competition. In addition, the committee has recognised the need to establish procedures for unskirted clips in order to retain Australia’s reputation for quality wool.


Victorian Farmer's Federation

Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group

The Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group has had many strong achievements for their members and Victorian producers.

We welcomed the ongoing investment in the eID tag price as the State Government rolls out the new electronic identification system. This will ensure eID tags in 2018 are available at a subside rate of 45 cents, and help Victoria’s sheep industry implement eID along the supply chain to provide consumers with a lifetime traceability guarantee. The subsidy will extend to all tag colours for 2018 as oppose to the year-by-colour subsidy in 2017 with positive grower uptake.

In May the Ararat City Council voted to abolish differential rating in favour of a uniform rate across all properties. Lobby by both Ararat community and the VFF lead to the State Government announcing they would hold a Commission of Inquiry into the Rural City of Ararat’s rating strategy. The VFF provided a valuable, insightful and articulate submission to the inquiry and saw a successful outcome for our farmers.

Throughout the year we have campaigned to raise the awareness of Q fever, an airborne disease carried by cattle, sheep and goats and other animals. The campaign saw significant media attention across Victoria and interstate, as well as a rise in public awareness. We have extended our concern of the price of the Q fever vaccination to the Minister for Agriculture and will continue to push subsidised vaccination.

The Group’s extension team, Livestock Health & Biosecurity VICTORIA, has secured funding for a dedicated project to improve the awareness and understanding among peri-urban landholders of their requirements as livestock owners. With two new staff joining the team in the New Year and led by producers, LHBV is in an exciting position to deliver key animal health, welfare and biosecurity information and tools for the benefit of Victorian livestock industries.

Funding from the Sheep and Goat, and Cattle, Compensation Funds also saw LHBV deliver events and present in collaboration with other industry stakeholders to over 2500 participants at 38 events in 2017. Events provided relevant national R&D with a practical local focus, including information on preventing exotic diseases, managing endemic diseases, importance of stock being fit-to-load and other welfare topics, using technology to assist traceable stock movements, monitoring and relevant record keeping.

An example of the value delivered by the two existing staff was the collaboration with Sheep Producers Australia, Cattle Council Australia and the Integrity Systems Company in the wake of the changes to the LPA program. LHBV delivered six interactive workshops getting producers up to speed on the changes, helping them develop practical farm biosecurity plans and understand their role in the bigger picture of disease surveillance and traceability.

LPA Producer Workshop

LHBV also continues to provide resources through social media and a website. Producers have access to current news and information, fact sheets, upcoming event information and link’s to relevant industry material, as well as a hotline for any related questions.


Livestock SA

Livestock SA celebrates four years of advocacy

 

This year, Livestock SA celebrated four years of providing industry advocacy for sheep, cattle, goat and wool producers in South Australia, with a growing membership of more than 3200 members. Effort has been across a range of industry issues and initiatives, as outlined in the following annual report.

Highlights

 

SA Sheep Industry Blueprint. The Blueprint celebrated 12-months of operation in April with the project well on track to achieving its overarching aim to increase productivity by 20% by 2020. Several projects are underway towards achieving this objective, including Lifetime ewe management adoption, improving lamb survival by optimising lambing density, establishing an Australia Merino Sire Evaluation Association site in SA, installation of a hook tracking system at JBS Bordertown, and development of a rapid sheep lice detection test.

 

Livestock Brands app. Livestock SA is working with the State Government on a new online system for producers to register brands and earmarks, after the Brands Act 1933 was formally repealed on January 1, 2016. The app was launched in August and will streamline the way brands are registered.  Livestock SA members have been providing feedback on the app.

 

Projects. Livestock SA continues to leverage funding for industry projects, including $414,000 for an industry skills project to assist 44 students obtain a Diploma of Agribusiness Management; $100,000 to develop and implement a working, in-plant radio frequency identification (RFID) hook tracking system at the Bordertown abattoir; $70,000 for portable real time tests for detection of sheep lice; $60,000 to improve the financial literacy of farm operators and work with key groups to deliver a course targeted at improving the financial literacy and management skills of livestock producers; and $12,100 to support 31 South Australian students to attend the National Merino Challenge. We have also recently commenced a project to support members with the installation of low flow bypasses for farm dams

 

Biosecurity. Livestock SA has continued to work closely with Biosecurity SA on developing One Biosecurity.  This is being highlighted by the need for on-farm biosecurity plans to show the management of BJD, and now for LPA.

 

SA Beef Industry Blueprint. Following on from the success with the Sheep Blueprint, plans are now well underway to implement a SA Beef Cattle Blueprint.  Forums have been held at Naracoorte and Mungerannie to gauge industry interest and commitment.  Based on the success of these, a a working group has been established.  Both the State and federal Governments have committed funding to support the blueprint development.

 

Transport issues. Livestock SA has continued to work as part of the PPSA/PIRSA/DPTI transport project in addition to pushing for improvements in road transport in the pastoral region.  Livestock SA participated in the First Ministers Forum between South Australia and Northern Territory.  Livestock SA was able to push for Yorkey’s Crossing to be upgraded with a pod to be established in early 2018 and is advocating for road train triples to be allowed to Dublin, and has since welcomed the State Government’s announcement to provide funding towards this.

 

Water security. Livestock SA is advocating for water security as a state wide objective for livestock producers to deliver improved resilience and long term viability to the South Australian livestock industry.

 

Andrew Curtis

Chief Executive Officer

Livestock SA


WA Farmers

WAFarmers Wool Council Report – WPA Annual Review

Steve McGuire WAFarmers Representative on WPA Board and

Kim Haywood – Executive Officer, WAFarmers  

 

Introduction

Following on from a good spring last year, seasonal conditions during 2017 have been variable. WA did have a good autumn, which led to good quality wool cuts towards the back of the year. We welcomed the lift in wool prices across the board this year and hope this trend continues so that prices stay at profitable levels. WAFarmers was also pleased to see the winding up of Graziers Investment Company and the return of funds to wool growers.

Livestock Production Assurance  

The sudden arrival of the LPA accreditation process, which was thrust on the industry in October, has certainly taken up a huge amount of time. The inclusion of a comprehensive biosecurity plan as part of the new LPA accreditation process and its associated fee certainly caused a lot of frustration and annoyance right across the industry and resulted in a large volume of phone calls received on a daily basis. WAFarmers wrote to the MLA, ISC, AHA, CCA and the State Government citing our concerns, particularly regarding the implementation and consultative process, as well as seeking responses to our proposed solutions to get the process back on track.

WAFarmers fully support WPA being included in discussions on LPA enhancements regardless of the fact that LPA relates to food safety. Any changes made to LPA have significant impacts for all sheep and wool businesses and, therefore, it is important for WPA to have a seat at the table.

WAFarmers gained a position on the Labor Government’s Working Group titled ‘Stop Puppy Farming’, as our main purpose is to ensure farm working dogs are exempt from this new Act. We are working with MLA’s ISC to get the Australian Working Dog Code of Practice included as part of LPA audits.

NWD and Pain Relief

The uptake of the National Wool Declaration is slowly increasing and WAFarmers continues to encourage all growers to use pain relief and complete the NWD as a valuable condition of sale.

Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Valuations

Discussion on EAD valuations and compensation are ongoing and WAFarmers fully supports WPA’s endeavours to get the policy changed so that valuations are established prior to an outbreak, not prior to destruction.

Lamb Dentition 

WAFarmers supports the proposed change to the Australian definition of lamb, which will allow a larger percentage of high quality lamb to enter the market as lamb rather than being discounted to a mutton based definition.

AWI

WAFarmers, in support of partners, hosted another successful series of Sheep Health Workshops this year. Geoff Lindon from AWI provided an excellent presentation on the latest innovations being trialled in the industry, and WAFarmers thanks AWI for supporting the workshop program.

Wool Exchange Portal

The WAFarmers Livestock Council’s policy position on the wool exchange portal, now known as WoolQ, is that we support the concept in principle but believe alternative funding should be found to support its establishment and delivery rather than the use of R&D funding via levy contributions. WAFarmers has encouraged AWI to collaborate with other entities that have developed similar platforms to create linkages and enhanced efficiencies for wool growers.

Wild Dog Control Programs and Funding

After considerable consultation on the WA Wild Dog Action Plan, WAFarmers commended the WA Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food for her foresight in securing a considerable amount of funding to support a number of wild dog management projects in WA, including the repair and maintenance of the State Barrier Fence and the building of the Esperance Extension over the next four years.

WA Sheep and Goat Industry Funding Scheme (IFS)

The main priority area for industry funding contributions under the scheme remains to be the control and management of Footrot in WA. However this year, the WAFarmers Livestock Council supported a percentage of funding to be used for the employment of doggers on the inside of the State Barrier Fence given the significant increase in dog sightings and attacks in the agricultural area.

Wild dogs are a significant and rapidly increasing problem in the Wheatbelt. The dogs are moving large distances looking for easy prey, such as sheep. Modelling by researchers showed that even with current control measures, numbers will increase dramatically.

It is important for the Western Australian sheep industry to stop the decline in sheep numbers. It does not matter how profitable sheep are; you cannot run them if dogs are eating them.

The current IFS contribution is 10 cents per head (reduced from 12 cents in 2015) paid by all sheep producers and traders unless they opt out.

WA Strategic Approach to Biosecurity

Biosecurity is recognised as the top priority for the state and a robust strategic approach has been adopted including:

  • Legislated framework (led through BAM Act)
  • Landholder responsibility
  • Biosecurity Council
  • Biosecurity Senior Officers Group (BSOG)
  • Government Programs (e.g. Invasive Species)
  • Industry initiatives (e.g. footrot controls)
  • Boosting Biosecurity Defences (Royalties for Regions funding)

The WA Biosecurity Council is unique in Australia with the aim to strength the state’s biosecurity capabilities and advise on the effectiveness and purpose of the biosecurity programs. Seven members are appointed to the Council based on a skills matrix and experience.

Key areas of activity include:

  • Cross agency collaboration;
  • Emergency response preparedness;
  • Roles and responsibilities;
  • Resourcing within DPIRD;
  • Funding ag biosecurity;
  • Management of established pests and disease;
  • Biosecurity and market access;
  • Sustaining a biosecurity response; and,
  • Environmental biosecurity.

Research and Development

The renewed allocation of funding and resources for sheep research in WA has also become a priority area under the new State Government this year, a position pushed as a key election priority by WAFarmers. The WAFarmers Livestock Council requested funding and resources to be used specifically for the maintenance of the two WA sheep research flocks based at Katanning; the Genetic Research Flock (GRF), and the Breech Strike Research Flock (BSRF).

These flocks provide the measurements for modern statistical methods and DNA technologies to estimate breeding values for traits such as disease resistance, meat quality and reproduction that otherwise are difficult and expensive to measure.

The GRF receives 50 per cent of its funding from Meat and Livestock Australia and 50 per cent from the WA State Government through DPIRD. This research flock is used to progeny test industry sires for a wide range of meat quality related traits that are problematic and expensive to measure on live animals. The information is needed to identify genetic markers that are essential to estimate breeding values needed to genetically improve meat quality traits. The value of genetic gain for WA sheep producers to date is 20 to 30 per cent, with considerably more gain for some hard-to-measure traits that currently are difficult to improve.

The BSRF receives 50 per cent of its funding from Australian Wool Innovations and 50 per cent from the WA State Government through DPIRD. Funding is required for another five years (2017 to 2021) to achieve the outcomes needed by the industry to address animal welfare and trade demands.

The BSRF was established to identify indicator traits that can be used to breed for resistance to breech strike without the need to directly challenge the animals to be struck by flies. Mulesing is highly effective animal husbandry method to protect animals against breech strike, but it has become a highly controversial welfare issue. The currently known indicator traits only explain approximately 25 per cent of the differences in breech strike between animals, so there is still considerable work to be done. The animals in this flock are well characterised and provide crucial experimental material to the University of Western Australia for in-depth studies to identify other elusive factors that could be used to breed for breech strike resistance to eliminate mulesing in future.

SafeFarmsWA and WorkSafe Audits

SafeFarmsWA (formerly Farmsafe WA) was founded by farmers for farmers in 1994 through the voluntary work of farmers. Gross negligence resulting in an on-farm death or serious injury could incur massively increased financial penalties and jail terms within two years. Aside from the obligation and desire to protect our employees, foreshadowed legislative change will result in 800 times increased penalty provision and double the length of imprisonment associated with negligence leading to serious injury or death of an employee on a farm.

SafeFarmsWA launched a new website and farm safety manual in October to assist the farm sector as they cannot afford to ignore the changing emphasis on occupational health and safety.

Worksafe are the regulators when it comes to farm safety, and advised WAFarmers they will be paying particular attention to shearing sheds over the next 12 months. The risk to farming businesses which fail to comprehensively address safety on farm cannot be overstated.


Animal Health Australia- AHA

SHEEP HEALTH PROJECT GOES FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH

The Sheep Health Project (SHP) has had another successful year in 2017, with a number of key activities completed to help sheep producers improve their on-farm biosecurity practices and the health of their sheep flock.

Funded by WoolProducers Australia (WPA) and Sheep Producers Australia (SPA), the SHP had a number of highlights this year, which include the launch of the new Sheep Health Declaration (SHD), significant levels of inspection in the National Sheep Health Monitoring Project (NSHMP) and the success of a number of communications activities.

The creation of the SHD is a particularly important achievement, said Dr Rob Barwell, Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) Acting Executive Manager of Biosecurity and Product Integrity Services.

“The SHD replaced the National Sheep Health Statement and is the most important disease risk management tool livestock buyers have available to them. It enables producers to assess the risk of diseases such as virulent footrot, ovine brucellosis, Johne’s disease and other biosecurity risks such as noxious and declared weeds when buying, selling or agisting stock,” said Dr Barwell.

The SHD is available on the Farm Biosecurity website to print out or download as a fillable PDF. It can also be completed online when submitting an electronic National Vendor Declaration on the Livestock Production Assurance portal.

More efficient data collection and an increase in the number of sheep inspected as part of the NSHMP were also key achievements for the SHP.

“The NSHMP monitors sheep in abattoirs for a number of diseases and conditions and provides feedback to producers, which they can use to manage the health of their sheep flock. I’m pleased to report that from January to October this year, around four and a quarter million sheep were inspected, an increase from the same period last year.”

“This means that more producers are being supplied with data about their sheep that can help them avoid future losses at the abattoir and boost their profits. The information is now available in Livestock Data Link, which is managed by the Integrity Systems Company,” said Dr Barwell.

Another key focus of the SHP in 2017 was promoting industry management of sheep health and biosecurity, in a way that sustains efficient production and ongoing market access.

“AHA, in conjunction with WPA and SPA, worked hard this year to get the message out that with good on-farm biosecurity and careful management of sheep health conditions, producers can improve profits at the farm gate,” said Dr Barwell.

“We circulated biosecurity information through newsletter articles, a social media campaign and animated videos.

“The video, in particular, was a great way to communicate with producers about sheep health and biosecurity. It’s the first time we’ve used this format and it was very successful, with the video reaching almost 5000 people through Facebook alone.

“Social media has also been useful to raise awareness about ovine brucellosis and ways to manage the condition,” said Dr Barwell.

AHA will continue to work with the sheep peak industry bodies to promote sheep health and on-farm biosecurity in 2018.

“We hope to continue the great momentum of the SHP and have a number of exciting activities in the pipeline for 2018,” said Dr Barwell.

Click here for more information on the SHP. For other tips and tricks to improve biosecurity for your sheep flock, go to the sheep industry page on the Farm Biosecurity website.


National Farmers Federation- NFF

National Agriculture Day 21st November 2017

The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) inaugural AgDay Photo Competition:

Runner-up - Time for a haircut Photographer: Marlee Langfield, Cowra, New South Wales 

From Bondi to Broome, Tassie to the Top End – Australians showed their support for the farm sector during the first National Agriculture Day (AgDay), held on 21 November.

More than 50 AgDay events, big and small, were held across the country throughout the day. On social media more than 4500 people posted more than 10,000 messages of support for Australian farmers and the role agriculture plays in our nation. These posts reached more than 10 million social media users – providing great personal firsthand accounts of Australia’s remarkable farm sector.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President, Fiona Simson, said the day was an important reminder of agriculture’s role in Australia’s economy and society.

“We know that Australians are increasingly disconnected from where their food and fibre is sourced from,” Ms Simson said.

“Just because Australia is highly urbanised, doesn’t mean agriculture should be ‘out of sight, out of mind'.

“Agriculture powers 1.6 came after research conducted by the National Farmers’ Federation, which showed the disconnect between farmers and the Australian population.

“Our research found that 83% of Australians felt their connection with farming was ‘distant’ or ‘non-existent’,” Ms Simson said.

“Hopefully through initiatives like National Agriculture Day, we can bring the story of agriculture to more Australians, and help them understand the direct stake they have in the industry’s success.”

Ms Simson paid tribute to the broad coalition of individuals and organisations that made the day a success.

“While the NFF itself played an important coordinating role for AgDay, credit for the success of the day really must go to our partners who dedicated time and resources towards realising the AgDay vision.

“We should especially thank those groups and people that hosted events around the country.

“Most importantly, we have to thank the Australians who took part in the celebration – by attending an AgDay event, or sharing our industry’s story online .

“Of course this is just the beginning for AgDay. Planning for the 2018 event starts today and we’re looking forward to building on this year’s success in the years to come,” Ms Simson said.