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Beyond the Bale : Feb - Mar 08 Supplement
ECO-TRENDS SUPPLEMENT BEYOND THE BALE 13 By Kellie Penfold Photo courtesy Elders South Australian pastoral zone woolgrower Richard Treloar has found meeting EU Eco criteria for his wool clip relatively simple and says it gives him the flexibility to keep animal welfare as a high priority. "For the past couple of years, it has been easy to keep on-farm chemical use down," he says. "With low rainfall we haven't had a major fly wave for quite a while." However, Mr Treloar says that if flystrike does become an issue and chemical treatment was the only control option, he would be prepared to forgo an EU Ecolabel for that year. "Animal welfare is paramount and you can't let sheep suffer for the sake of trying to keep your place chemical free." The Treloars, who run 'Mooleulooloo Station', just over the border from Broken Hill, sold 226 bales in the first major sale of EU Eco wool in November 2007. Chinese and European buyers purchased the wool, which was part of 527 bales, including oddments, offered in the sale organised by Elders. The wool was sourced from growers in South Australia and far western NSW, who complied with the EU Ecolabel by meeting the EU standards for pesticide residues. Elders wool account manager Geoff Redden says the wools in the 19 to 21 micron range recorded an upward trend, with the top price being 675 cents per kilogram for a line of 19.5 micron wool. In total, Elders put to auction more than 1200 bales of certified organic wool in 2007 and 800 bales of EU Eco wool, with both types of wool sourced from a pool of fewer than 20 woolgrowers, most of them from South Australia and the rest from western NSW and ueensland. "The EU Ecolabel system applies to anything sold into the EU -- from washing machines to wool." says Mr Redden. "It's not a complex system and, as it does attract a premium for wool (three per cent in 2007), I think it is worth woolgrowers exploring. "For growers who are interested in growing wool with fewer chemicals, but perhaps not ready for organic accreditation, it is a good system and a step towards meeting these emerging consumer demands. On the other hand, if there are times you can't meet the EU specifications, you opt out with that clip and return later." Two years ago, the Treloars first achieved EU Ecolabel status and, by paying close attention to their flock management and chemical use, easily achieved the status again in 2007. Richard says the pastoral zone has a natural advantage due to climate and environmental conditions in being able to meet the criteria. "I feel much more confident now with the process, but admittedly we haven't had a fly or lice problem in the last couple of years, due to drier summers," he says. "We've been able to deal with small fly waves through crutching." Inspired by the marketing opportunities for their clip, the Treloars are about to embark on organic accreditation. "While it will be a challenge, it is about trying to get a premium for our wool. Basically it's economics -- earning more per kilogram of wool," Mr Treloar says. "Consumers are demanding natural food and fibre and are obviously prepared to pay a premium for chemical-free production." ú More information: Elders South Australia, 1800 882 634 GROWERS MEET EU ECOLABEL The EU Ecolabel provides a stepping stone for woolgrowers unable, or not ready, to make the transition to organic cer tification PIPELINE Workshop spells out steps to certification The growing interest in gaining organic certification led Dubbo-based wool traders Lanoc Wool to hold a series of workshops for clients in 2007. Managing director of Lanoc Wool Don MacDonald says 10 woolgrowers paid to participate in the two weekend courses conducted by industry consultants TM Organics, which explained the process of accreditation. "Some were interested because they perceived a profit or a premium would result from certification, while others were there because they had concerns about using chemicals in wool production and wanted to change," Mr MacDonald says. "It's not simple to just swing into organic production, but for many growers in the Western Division of NSW it can be an ideal fit to the environment where they are already operating." Lanoc Wool held two organic-wool sales in 2007, with each sale attracting premiums of $120 to $160 a bale. While many clients, particularly those in the Western Division, are already using minimal chemicals in wool production, the barrier, according to Mr MacDonald, is blowfly control. -- KELLIE PENFOLD More information: www.lanocwool.com.au The group of woolgrowers who participated in the introduction to organic certification course at Dubbo organised by Lanoc Wool. Elder's Geoff Redden with organic wool producer Janie McClure, who is also managing director of Rural Organics, at one of 2007's organic wool sales.
Dec - Jan 08
Feb - Mar 08