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.