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Beyond the Bale : Dec 06 - Jan 07
By Fiona Conroy The Wool4Wealth program, which has been running in NSW since May 2005, has been helping more than 16 woolgrower groups across NSW to improve the profitability of their sheep and wool enterprises by selling more wool per hectare, improving wool quality, lifting their wool price and cutting production costs per kilogram. As a result of the extraordinary drought conditions across Australia, and particularly most of NSW, Wool4Wealth has developed a tailored program to support and assist sheep and wool producers. The modified course provides an opportunity to plan and review the key aspects associated with managing through and beyond the drought. Program manager Col Scrivener says critical management decisions, combined with regular monitoring and assessment, will be essential to manage farm businesses through the drought. "The key issues for drought management are having a plan for the business enterprise, the assets and the wellbeing of individuals and family until re-establishment after the break," he says. "The Wool4Wealth drought training program addresses financial, social, animal welfare and stewardship needs, as well as production, grazing and resource management and opportunities during this current drought and the recovery period that will follow. "The drought program consists of four meetings that can be paced according to group needs. Participants still get access to specialist presenters at each meeting." The special drought package addresses the following critical topics: ú review current drought strategy for the family and the family farm; ú managing the health and welfare of livestock; ú managing the pastures through the drought and the recovery period; ú understanding financial options and human aspects of drought; and ú planning post-drought options. The cost of the four meetings is $200. A second set of four meetings based on the original Wool4Wealth program costs $400. The original Wool4Wealth program is aimed at developing and maintaining profitable sheep production systems and making correct decisions about asset management. Jeff Eppleston, research officer with the Central Tablelands Rural Land Protection Board, coordinates the Bathurst and Woodstock Wool4Wealth groups. The Bathurst group uses Bruce Clements, the local NSW Department of Primary Industries agronomist, as its consultant, while the Woodstock group has Jason Southwell from Canowinda. "The program has been giving people a chance to sit back and analyse what they are doing so they can see where they are performing well and where they can improve," A wealth of woolgrower education in NSW The Wool4Wealth program, established in May 2005, now includes a drought management package 18 EDUCATION BEYOND THE BALE Growers flock to Wool4Wealth Richard Dutton likes Merino sheep and information. So when the Wool4Wealth program was launched last year, Richard and a number of his fellow wool producers were keen to get a group going in the district. Their Bathurst group was formed in May 2005 after he went to the project launch in Young and fellow woolgrower Michael Inwood to the program launch in Dubbo. Both farmers were instrumental in forming the group, which regularly has 11 to12 members at meetings. "We're all involved in grazing around the Bathurst area and saw this as an opportunity to fine-tune our enterprises and improve our profitability," Mr Dutton says. The group aims to tackle four modules a year and surveys members after each meeting to gauge the usefulness of the information presented. Topics covered by the Bathurst group include benchmarking, wool marketing and risk management and climate change. "The great thing about Wool4Wealth is that we get a topic and a presenter then have a discussion. It gives us a forum where like-minded people can get together and access information. It will have colossal ongoing benefits for the people involved and is very positive for the wool industry. "While most of our older group members have been in discussion groups, there hasn't been a district discussion group in our region for at least 10 years.This means a lot of the younger group members have never been in a discussion group before, and these people are finding Wool4Wealth really interesting." This is particularly useful when younger family members are involved in the farm business, and in Mr Dutton's case his 22-year-old son Charles is also a group member. "The content of Wool4Wealth really highlights that we can all fine-tune our existing enterprises to improve our profitability, rather than changing enterprises," Mr Dutton says. "Wool4Wealth is making us evaluate our Merino enterprise by looking at the positives and negatives of what we do in terms of our management and whether changes should be made to our operations such as shearing and lambing times." ú More information: 1800 010 530, www.wool4wealth.com Mr Eppleston says. "The meetings give everyone access to the latest production, management and marketing technologies, as well as giving people the opportunity to sit down with their peers and discuss issues, the options and learn from each other." Program organisers are keen to encourage growers who normally do not get involved in discussion groups to try Wool4Wealth. In recent months, a number of advisers visited farms in the Cumnock area and surveyed woolgrowers on the issues affecting their farm business. At the end of the survey, growers were invited to attend an introductory module on Wool4Wealth. "A proportion of the people who came along to the meeting said it wasn't for them, but a good number decided to get involved and now we have two new groups in the area." The Wool4Wealth program is available to woolgrowers across the Northern Tablelands, North West Slopes and Plains, Central West Slopes and Plains, Central West Tablelands, Southern Slopes and Tablelands and Riverina. ú More information: 1800 010 530, www.wool4wealth.com Charles and Richard Dutton examining the fleece on one of their rams. PHOTO:VANESSA ROGET
Feb 07 - Mar 07