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President's Annual Report

Welcome to my first annual report. 


The past 12 months have certainly involved more travel than I have ever done before. As I still have a farm to run, I have a saying regarding travelling and time management – “last in, first out”.


Any form of livestock farming has certainly been challenging this year, with the announcement of the Live Export ban, crash in livestock prices and drought conditions across a large part of NSW/Qld and southern Tasmania.


Wool has been at a constant level; however, it is below the cost of production in a lot of cases.


The shearer shortage has eased in some areas due to training, dry weather and less store lambs being shorn at this stage. Working conditions continue to shame us considering we harvest and supply a luxury fibre to the world.


There are always challenges - past, current and future. My approach has always been to be proactive in anything. EID is coming like it or not. A phase-in of tags seems the most sensible approach over a five-year period, WoolProducers continues to advocate this position at the national level but is not supported by any other representative in industry or government – mark my words, growers will revolt when this occurs. To double tag sheep will adversely affect sheep and woolgrowers if this program is managed poorly.


As we all know, pain relief will be mandated at some stage in the future. Victoria has had pain relief for mulesing as a legal requirement for some years and Tasmania changed legislation to make it a requirement this year.


This legal obligation, along with the voluntary uptake will certainly be helped by a possible pain relief product incorporated with 5 in 1 vaccine and lignocaine incorporated on rubber rings. These products may be on the market shortly for over-the-counter purchase from farm suppliers.  Again, we have the opportunity to be more proactive in this space but are restrained by other industry stakeholders who are happy to keep their head in the sand - this will be to the detriment of the industry.


The level on interest for this year’s WoolProducers election was pleasing for the organisation and it provides member woolgrowers to vote on who they think will best represent their interests in national policy setting. This is something that makes WoolProducers unique amongst woolgrower representative bodies and is something that I am proud of.


Eligible nominations were received from Helen Carrigan, Vic; Angus Hobson, NSW, Simon Riddle, Vic and Skye Ward, NSW, along with incumbent Independent Director, Stacey Lugsdin, NSW. I would like to congratulate Angus, Skye and Simon on being elected and look forward to working with them in 2024 and beyond.


The AWI Election has been decided for another year. Personally, I was disappointed that Ed Storey and Steve McGuire were not successful. However, at the end of the day 5 good people put their hand up and I will continue to work with all AWI Directors going forward.


WoolProducers have been involved in recent times with the proposed Wool Traceability Data Hub. Even though WoolProducers’ traceability report was the catalyst of this work and we had engaged the appropriate stakeholders to implement the recommendations, WoolProducers were initially left out of these discussions.


WoolProducers supports this kind of collaboration between the three industry service providers to ensure that there is not duplication of expenditure of woolgrower monies, however there are still serious concerns from WoolProducers that a lot more money will be spent on trying to save face for AWI over their excessive expenditure on WoolQ that amounted to nothing.


In recent times we have seen how destructive one person’s comments can be, with the AWI Chair unravelling the spirit of collaboration that has been shown during this process with one interview, in which it was stated that the AWTH was basically WoolQ and that is why they are involved. This greatly upset both the brokers and exporters, although it was of no surprise to WoolProducers at all.


The ATMAC project investigating domestic and diversified processing is going very well. Both Jo and Adam have been working steadily on this project which interestingly had no support from AWI initially, although there has now been recognition of the value that this project can deliver, and we are thankful for the contribution that AWI has made to the second phase of this project.


The ‘action plans’ that are being developed under this project, investigating domestic processing and expanded processing in Vietnam, India and Bangladesh offers an opportunity to make a genuine and complimentary change to our traditional trading patterns in the global wool supply chain. However, it is important to understand that China is our major customer of Australian wool and will continue to be so.


We hosted an Indian delegation that came to Melbourne in late November. This for me was a highlight of the year. The day spent with Chairman Romesh and Dr Arvind Kumur, straight after the cricket world cup! From 9am to 6pm we were able to converse all covering many industry and non-industry issues (but not cricket). We visited AWTA where Dr Kumur was not only able to ask all the relevant questions but was able to follow up again and again.


Meeting with AWEX at the AWH Wool store was also appreciated by our guests, where we were able to explain the selling system as well as handling all the different wool types that were on display.


From there after a quick lunch of KFC Zinger Chicken Wings we visited “Beverly” at Redesdale near Bendigo. The Barty family run a Merino Stud as well as a commercial flock of 20,000 merinos. This is a well-run family enterprise, and I would like to thank them for their time and hospitality. I would also like to thank Alister Carr from Karlee Wool, who organised the visit and is also due to visit India with some woolgrowers in the near future. All in all, it was a great day.


The follow up was two days later with the Indian Roundtable in Melbourne. I was unable to attend due to family commitments, however it was chaired by Jo and was a success.


IWTO will be in Adelaide next year and the networking is always easier when you have previously met with the people involved in the organisation. I have been directly involved in the organising of this conference and I’m hoping that the agenda and conference price will be attractive to Australian woolgrowers.


I am on the organising committee for this conference, and it is starting to take shape. There have been 100 places put aside for woolgrowers at a special discounted rate. For more information or to register your interest please email me at president@woolproducers.com.au


Finances in many organisation are under pressure. I would like to thank our Finance, Audit and Risk Committee for continuing their role in keeping our Board up to date with our position. It is always pleasing to see a surplus; however future funding remains a constant issue and we continue to find new ways to keep the sufficient funding levels . Here at WPA we do not waste funds unnecessarily.


Thank-you to our Board who certainly dedicate their time for the betterment of the wool growing industry. Special thanks to Vice President Stacey for her counsel and support throughout the year.


Jo Hall and Adam Dawes are the most knowledgeable and respected staff members in our industry. The countless hours, phone calls and emails are never seen by most however I can assure you that the people we represent are being advocated for at a high level. Thank-you both.


In closing I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year, I am looking forward to 2024.

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