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Beyond the Bale : September 2012
3 September 2012 BEYOND THE BALE UPFRONT Getting on with business We are continuing with initiatives to help increase the demand for wool through investments in marketing and R&D -- from farm to fashion. I would like to inform you of some recent activities in which the organisation has been involved. Wild dogs: To help woolgrower groups protect their sheep from wild dogs, and rebuild their flocks, AWI has invested over $1.5 million over the past 12 months, leveraged with funding from local governments and natural resource managers. Funding goes towards practical initiatives such as aerial baiting and establishing new producer groups. Key to helping woolgrowers is the funding of wild dog coordinators, who are working with landholders to raise awareness and ensure wild dog control activities are coordinated across regions and are effective. Shearer and woolhandler training: Adequate numbers of highly skilled professional shearers and wool handlers are key to the profitability of the Australian wool industry. In the past 12 months, 1304 shearers and 886 wool handlers were trained directly through AWI-funded programs across Australia, with an additional 372 participants who attended crutching and other introductory shearing and woolhandling workshops. If we want to retain these new professionals in the industry, and attract others, we need to ensure that they have professional shed conditions in which to work. Value of wool attributes report: A recent AWI review of AWEX data for all fleece wool auctioned between 2004 and 2011 could help woolgrowers avoid discounts and attract increased premiums by producing wool with the characteristics that are valuable to buyers, processors and consumers. The review analysed the relationship between clean prices for over 1.7 million lots of fleece wool and a range of characteristics of the raw wool sold. A summary of the AWI review is available on pages 34-35 of this edition of Beyond the Bale. AWI state networks: AWI continues to invest and grow its state based extension networks which have increased their membership base by nearly 50 per cent over the past 12 months to 7520. Strong partnerships with state departments, private providers and woolgrowers have secured ongoing funds for Leading Sheep (Qld), Sheep Connect NSW, Bestwool/Bestlamb (Vic), SheepConnect Tas, Sheep Connect SA, The Sheep's Back (WA) and Bestprac (pastoral) networks. Call the AWI Helpline on 1800 070 099 if you want to get involved with a group in your area. Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Trophies: In 2013 the industry will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Trophies. These two competitions are open to all Australian and New Zealand woolgrowers. All entrants must be Superfine Merino ewe or wether skirted fleeces. The Vellus Aureum is open to fleeces with a minimum weight of 750 grs and tested as 13.9 micron or finer. The Wool Trophy is open to fleeces of 18.5 micron or finer. Full entry details are available from the competitions' coordinating companies the Australian Superfine Wool Growers' Association and G. Schneider Australia Pty Ltd, or from the AWI Helpline on 1800 070 099. International Woolmark Prize: The regional finalists of the International Woolmark Prize, presented in partnership with Vogue, have recently been announced, and the interest in this award from the fashion communities and media globally has been phenomenal. It is helping put wool back on the agendas of fashion designers across the world, and consequently into retail stores for consumers to purchase. An important element of this prize is the commercialisation of Australian Merino wool products in the key regions of Europe, Australia, China and the USA. Merino next to skin R&D: The results of an AWI-funded study undertaken by the Queensland Institute of Dermatology with patients suffering from chronic skin conditions show that wearing suitably specified fine Merino products will not irritate the skin's surface but in fact benefit those suffering from the skin conditions. The study also challenges persistent public perception that wool is "prickly and itchy", and might open the doors to new high value product markets. Review of Performance: The 2012 independent Review of Performance (ROP) was recently completed and it found that AWI's performance has greatly improved over the past three years, accurately reflecting our collective commitment to the industry and to demonstrating a return on investment for Australian woolgrowers. The ROP is undertaken every three years prior to WoolPoll. We still have some work to do, and we will be addressing those areas that need further improvement. Further information is available on the AWI website at www.wool.com/rop Government rural R&D policy announcement: The Government recently outlined its future rural R&D policy and announced its position on the Productivity Commission's report on rural Research & Development Corporations (RDCs). The Government's announcements focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the rural RDCs, and confirmed that it does not accept the Productivity Commission's recommendation to reduce rural R&D funding. Given the many improvements AWI has already made as a result of the 2009 Review of Performance, the Government's announcement will have little impact on AWI. Stuart McCullough Chief Executive Officer, Australian Wool Innovation