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Beyond the Bale : Jun - Jul 08 Supplement
By Fiona conroy a National Wool Declaration (NWD) comes into effect at wool sales from 21 July 2008. The NWD, which also incorporates the Dark and Medullated Fibre Risk Scheme and Record of Chemical Use, has been developed by the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) following consultation with industry representatives ranging from wool buyers and brokers to woolgrowers. Woolgrowers will complete the NWD, enabling the mulesing status of individual mobs to be recorded, reported in sale catalogues and then traced through the supply chain. Mulesing is defined as the removal of skin from the tail and/or breech region of a sheep using shears. AWEX quality and training program manager Dr Kerry Hansford says the NWD will help wool brokers, buyers and customers identify wool from non-mulesed sheep, from properties where mulesing is no longer practised and from sheep mulesed with pain relief. These options give the industry the information to make informed choices regarding their wool purchases. “Wool processors are telling us they have customers requesting wool from non-mulesed sheep, but buyers struggle to put lots together because they can’t identify the wool on the sale floor,” Dr Hansford says. “Having an NWD identifying mulesing status will give people in the supply chain the opportunity to easily identify wool and understand the changes taking place in the Australian wool industry.” Philip M. Hsu, managing director of AS Gedge Australia Pty Ltd – the largest auction buyer of wool in 2006-07 – says that in the past few months there has been a sudden increase in demand from Europe, and even India, for wool from non-mulesed sheep. “We can’t find the quantities of wool from non-mulesed sheep to meet these customers’ requirements overnight – it’s going to take time,” Mr Hsu says. “Having the mulesing status of a lot listed in the sale catalogue will be valuable, but the most important thing for these customers is that we can guarantee the mulesing status of wool we are supplying.” National Council of Wool Selling Brokers president Robert Ryan says the declaration of mulesing status in sale catalogues would allow exporters to easily identify lots for customers demanding a known mules-free status. “The demand for non-mulesed wool is coming from retailers and it’s important they can label their products as such, which makes the on-farm declaration critical in verifying the integrity of the final product,” Mr Ryan says. “If there is enough demand from retailers then we could see these wools attracting premiums, which could then offset the associated farm-management costs of running non-mulesed sheep, such as extra crutching.” The new NWD is separate to the classer’s specification sheet, but identifies the mulesing status of the different mobs referred to in the specification, and links the wool to a specific property. The declaration form is designed to accompany the classer’s specification to the broker’s store and must be completed and signed by the flock’s owner or manager at shearing. “It’s essential that the NWD form is signed by the owner of the wool, because it represents a personal declaration that has legal implications,” Dr Hansford says. “An unsigned wool declaration means the wool will be assigned an ‘ND’, or ‘Not Declared’ status, and may be overlooked by certain buyers and processors.” Correctly completed NWDs will result in the mulesing status of the different sale lots being displayed in the catalogue of all wool sold at auction from Monday 21 July 2008 onwards. Mulesing codes to be listed in sale catalogues are: ú +#7; NM (Not Mulesed) – wool from sheep that are not mulesed; ú +#7; CM (Ceased Mulesing) – wool from a property where the owner or manager has ceased mulesing; this sale lot may include wool from mulesed sheep; ú +#7; PR (Pain Relief ) – wool from sheep where mulesing was performed with pain relief; ú +#7; ND (Not Declared) – no declaration has been made or the wool is from a re-handled lot; and ú +#7; blank – all other cases, including properties that continue mulesing. Wool declaration identifies mulesing status of Wool A national wool declaration scheme will enable buyers to differentiate wool from mulesed and non-mulesed sheep It is likely that various mobs from the same property will have different codes: wool from lambs and hoggets may be NM, while wool from mature ewes may be CM. Woolgrowers will receive the new NWD as part of the shearing stationery package sent out by wool brokers for the new wool season. Wool industry representatives are in discussions about developing a procedure to audit the NWD and verify the integrity of the information. Wool exporter New England Wool has been operating its own mulesing declaration form and property auditing procedure for three years in a bid to collect information on the availability of wool from non-mulesed sheep and to educate customers. Managing director of New England Wool Andrew Blanch says the company exports approximately 35,000 bales of superfine wool to Italy each year. About 1500 bales have been declared to his company as being from non-mulesed sheep, over three years. Of these, about 500 bales have been suitable for New England Wool’s exacting types. “New England Wool is owned by two Italian fabric manufacturers who also own wool-growing properties in Australia and New Zealand and understand the practicalities of wool production and managing flystrike,” Mr Blanch says. “This issue is difficult and sensitive and we know professional woolgrowers are successful because they look after their flocks. “We understand that stopping the mulesing operation before a viable alternative or integrated management technique is in place will be difficult for producers. The issue is very real and during our auditing process of non-mulesed flocks we have been impressed and buoyed by strategies some growers have adopted to cope without mulesing.” New England Wool has been involved in the development of the AWEX NWD and Mr Blanch is happy it will be linked to the classer’s specification and the sale catalogue. “It is important the information supplied maintains complete integrity,” he says. “While the NM status in the sale catalogue will be most important to us, we also believe the CM status is important because it lets our customers know what is happening in the industry as mulesing is phased out. “We need retailers to understand that even after the 2010 deadline, there will still be four to five years of CM wool from adult sheep coming through the pipeline.” ú More information: www.awex.com.au roAd to 010 SuPPLeMent Beyond the BALe mArketIng
Apr - May 08
Jun - July 08