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WoolProducers – Providing leadership on animal welfare

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Peak woolgrower representative body, WoolProducers Australia, is frustrated at recent misinformed statements from AWI Chair, Jock Laurie, that there is no leadership (from farmer groups) at the moment in relation to animal welfare advocacy.

WoolProducers undertakes extensive work in relation to sheep welfare, health and biosecurity on behalf of Australian woolgrowers both through representation and policy development. Recent work has included (but not limited to):

  • Submissions to animal welfare regulation review processes (both domestic and internaitonal) that impact Australian wool growers and products containing Australian wool.

  • Engagement in a multitude of animal welfare working groups and forums to represent the interests of Australian wool growers, including:

o AWI Animal Welfare Forum (a requirement of the AWI Best Practice Consultation Guide)

o IWTO Wool Sheep Welfare Working Group.

o Textile Exchange Animal Welfare Working Group.

o Briefing federal and state governments, including the Animal Welfare Task Group.

o Briefing trading partner governments, industry partners and NGOs on animal welfare matters.

  • Advocating for improved access to pain relief, including, Numnuts and Buccalgesic (Butec) and supporting the registration of a forthcoming Virbac meloxicam + clostridial vaccine as a Schedule 6 product.

  • Representing the interests of Australian woolgrowers throughout industry review processes, including the National Wool Declaration, National Vendor Declaration and Sheep Health Declaration review processes.

  • Development of the Pain Relief Decision Support for Lamb Marking guide in response to increased pain relief product availability.

WoolProducers President, Steve Harrison said “the comments from Mr Laurie are disappointing and completely unfounded, but not surprising. Actions speak louder than works, if Mr Laurie took the time to genuinely understand and collaborate with WoolProducers the industry would be a lot better off”

WoolProducers has progressive policy in relation to animal welfare, this includes calling for mandatory pain relief when undertaking mulesing and acknowledging the contemporary 5 domains model for animal welfare.

WoolProducers General Manager, Adam Dawes said “Talk is cheap in the age of social media, misinformation presents a very real threat to our sector through the erosion of our social license to operate. It is essential that we tell our story, that is why WoolProducers have initiated initiatives such as the Sheep Sustainability Framework and the Trust In Australian Wool campaign, the later of which AWI has chosen not to collaborate in relation to distribution or promotion in any way whatsoever”.

WoolProducers regularly engages with downstream supply chain partners, gaining insights in relation to supply chain sentiment. WoolProducers have requested for AWI to undertake regular reporting of supply chain sentiment to growers, particularly in relation to animal welfare, but these calls have gone unanswered.

Mr Dawes said “we know that there are variable premiums for non-mulesed and certified wool, and that these premiums alone don’t appear to be enough to drive universal practice change. In recent months WoolProducers have learnt that there is now demand for non-mulesed lanolin, and some major global processors will be transition to 100% non-mulesed wool from 2025. It’s essential that growers receive this messaging so that they can invest in the sustainability of their business by ensuring that their businesses continues evolve to meet emerging customer needs.”

Mr Harrison said, “as both a wool grower and a stud breeder I need to understand what my customers want today, tomorrow and in 5 and 10 years’ time. We all know that AWI can’t tell growers what to do, however given that 60% of their spending (or 75% of the levies that they receive from growers) goes to marketing, some regular and clear market feedback, including sentiment and future demand modelling is the very least that we should expect”.

The 2021 Independent Review of Performance (ROP) recommended that:

The AWI Board should commission an independent report to measure current, and predict future trends, in international sentiment towards mulesed wool. This report will cover: –

  • An understanding of the current sentiment of consumers towards mulesed wool in Australia’s current and predicted major wool markets and model future movements in trends.

  • Modelling on the financial and economic impact of these trends on wool price and wool production.

  • Use of report to inform AWI RD&E expenditure and assist in communications with both woolgrowers and the supply chain. Report should be published in whole or in part on for all levy payers to access (where appropriate).

So far only a 3 (2) page summary has been made available on the AWI website.

Mr Dawes said “WoolProducers have been requesting the full report from AWI for some time now, one can only speculate as to why more comprehensive information has not been provided as per the recommendations of the ROP. Growers don’t need to be told what to do, what they do need is clear, transparent and timely market feedback, and we don’t have that”.

“There is a very clear linkage between R&D and policy development, WoolProducers will continue to provide leadership on animal welfare on behalf of the Australian wool industry, it is up to the AWI board to determine if they wish to collaborate on this topic to deliver a strategic and efficient approach to address sensitive and emerging issues. It would be a disservice to Australian wool growers if Mr Laurie and the AWI board were to continue to hold the same sentiments in relation to a lack of leadership on animal welfare into the future” Mr Dawes said.


WoolProducers Australia contacts:

Adam Dawes, General Manager

0455 442 776

Steve Harrison, President

0427 468 303

About WoolProducers’ Australia

WoolProducers plays a critical role in working closely with companies and entities funded by woolgrower funds including compulsory levies or fees for service.

Its mission is to develop constructive and profitable outcomes for woolgrowers nationally.

The agency is responsible for appointing a director to each of the Australian Wool Exchange and the Australia Wool

Testing Authority, promoting good corporate governance and ensuring that the interests of growers are met.

WoolProducers maintains a working relationship with Australian Wool Innovation as the voice of woolgrower shareholders. It aims to contribute to AWI’s programs for the benefit of growers, promoting responsible use of levy funds and ensuring good corporate governance.

WoolProducers is the sole wool industry member of Animal Health Australia, and as such, carries a significant responsibility for decision making on behalf of the industry in the event of an emergency animal disease outbreak.

As the only wool grower organisation with membership of the National Farmers’ Federation, WoolProducers is responsible for providing key policy advice on behalf of our members, and other wool growers, to Australia’s peak farm body.

WoolProducers also works closely with the Federal Government Departments on key issues such as animal health and welfare, biosecurity, pest management control, natural resource management, drought preparedness, emergency animal disease outbreak preparedness and industry development, including research, trade and logistics.


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