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.