20 April 2016

Mandatory wool declarations

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By Annabelle Beale - Stock & Land

Woolproducers Australia is backing the compulsory use of National Wool Declarations (NWD) forms which is being championed by wool exporters.

Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) introduced the NWD program in 2008 to document woolgrowers’ flystrike control practices through the wool selling system.

Currently, 54.5 per cent of the national Merino wool clip and 50.7pc of the country’s crossbred wool is declared using NWD.

Woolgrowers can declare their wool as non-mulesed, ceased mulesing or pain relief treated.

Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors president Chris Kelly said mandatory declarations would provide more choice in the auctions for retailers and suppliers wanting “welfare friendly” wool.

“The impact to the Australian industry is we cannot compete with the countries that are non-mulesed,” Mr Kelly said.

“Previously if we had an inquiry for (non-mulesed) Australian wool, we have had to say they are not available because of a lack of declared supply, and the order is dragged from Australia.

“It has been lost business for Australian woolgrowers.”

Mr Kelly, director of Australian Merino Exports, said in the past six months the company had received an increasing number of orders from China for non-mulesed status wool.

“We are (receiving) more inquiry for non-mulesed status wool which is flowing into real business, not just idle, threatening talks,” he said.

“(It is) not just the Europeans or Japanese, now it is coming - albeit very slowly - from the Chinese market.

“Where there is smoke, there is fire and you can sense it is growing and not going away.”

WoolProducers Australia chief executive Jo Hall said the lobby group supported mandatory NWD.

“Ultimately we would like to see the use of the NWD made compulsory and to accompany all types of wool put up for sale, including the crossbred sector, which generally produce unmulesed wool,” Ms Hall said.

“… WPA supports a grower extension program informing growers of the importance of completing the NWD regardless of their mulesing status.

“Supply-chain partners have indicated it is important for them to know what it being produced in Australia.”

While AWEX dismissed mandatory NWD, chief executive Mark Grave urged every woolgrower to declare their wool status.

“The national wool declaration is not a judgement on how someone might or might not look after their sheep,” Mr Grave said.

“It is about making the information available to buyers to help them compete for our wool.

“What we would all like to see is the market to differentiate between those that are declared and those that are not.”

Australian Merino Exports director Chris Kelly believes the increase number of orders from China for non-mulesed status wool could be serviced through greater use of NWD.
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