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Beyond the Bale : March 2014
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. On-farm input costs: The rise in on-farm input costs continues to place pressure on woolgrowers' profitability. AWI acknowledges woolgrowers' concerns about these costs. Our on-farm R&D portfolio will continue to develop and promote products and practices to reduce the cost of production on-farm through innovations in areas such as sheep health and nutrition, genetic technologies to breed more productive sheep, pastures and grazing, and shearing and woolhandling. Mixed enterprises: How and where wool fits into a mixed enterprise has often been a difficult question for many producers, but those producers who fit wool within their business are finding it does work and is an important additional enterprise. Given the recent past experience of variable seasonal conditions, plus the high input costs of cropping, producers in the wheat-sheep zone and low rainfall areas are seeing the benefit of having a wool enterprise to manage their risk. Wild dogs: The devastating impact of wild dogs has been felt across many areas of the pastoral zone and along the Great Dividing Range in NSW and Victoria. However, there have been successes in wild dog control when farmers and landholders come together to tackle the problem in a coordinated way. In these situations, some producers have been confident enough to increase their flock size and some farmers to return to sheep. Funding is available to groups under AWI's 'Community Wild Dog Control Initiative' with applications open to new groups as well as those groups that have previously received funding from AWI. AWI is keen to help groups develop long term solutions. Attracting and retaining shearers and woolhandlers: Adequate numbers of highly skilled professional shearers and wool handlers are key to the profitability of the Australian wool industry. Hundreds of shearers and woolhandlers are being trained directly through AWI-funded programs across Australia. AWI is also providing increased support for shearing and woolhandling competitions across the country to promote excellence within the shearing industry, and to encourage young people to join the industry. If we want to attract -- and retain -- these new professionals in the industry, we need to ensure that they have professional and safe shed conditions in which to work. The Woolmark brand's 50-year anniversary: 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the world-famous Woolmark brand. The Woolmark logo has been applied to more than five billion products worldwide since it was first launched in 1964. Its enduring appeal continues to deliver significant returns to Australian woolgrowers who own it. As well as its use on products through the Woolmark Licensing Program, the logo is being used widely to promote Australian wool through all of AWI's global marketing campaigns. International Woolmark Prize: This initiative is wholly aimed at increasing the global demand for wool. This year's competition has been incredibly successful at showcasing the versatility and quality of Merino wool to the fashion and textile industries and consumers. It continues to gain extraordinary momentum, generating significant interest across the globe; we will continue with, and expand, the award next year. Through this competition, we now have a network of the world's leading influencers of fashion -- at the jury, designer and media level -- endorsing wool, and broader recognition of the fibre's qualities amongst consumers across the world. Wool in sports/outdoor apparel: AWI continues to cement Merino fibre's presence in the sports and outdoor market, collaborating with leading manufacturers and brands to promote the natural benefits of wool as a performance fibre. A majority of the world's leading outdoor brands now incorporate Merino wool innovations in their collections. And while there has been widespread uptake of Merino wool in next-to- skin apparel, Merino wool is also now emerging as a fibre used in outerwear and lining. Interiors: The woollen interiors sector remains strong despite ongoing challenging global economic conditions, according to Woolmark licensees at the influential Heimtextil trade show. This is good news for growers of broader micron and crossbred wool. As in previous years at Heimtextil, AWI co-hosted the Wool Arena -- a focal point for the industry to promote the fibre at the show -- highlighting the superior natural benefits of all wool. This year AWI also showcased The Wool Lab Interiors -- the guide to the best wool textiles and the most interesting and innovative applications of wool in the furnishing and interior textile sectors. E-communications: Feedback from woolgrowers indicates that our monthly Woolgrower e-newsletter has proved successful in providing them with a regular snapshot of key projects and events involving AWI. It complements well our quarterly Beyond the Bale magazine. To subscribe to any or all of AWI's free e-newsletters visit www.wool.com/subscribe. AWI Scanner App: AWI has released an App through which AWI shareholders and wool levy payers can view and update their contact details (phone number and email address) on the AWI register, and view the amount of wool levies they have paid in the past three years. Visit www.wool.com/ shareregistry for details. Stuart McCullough Chief Executive Officer, Australian Wool Innovation 3 March 2014 BEYOND THE BALE UPFRONT