Wool industry welcomes American retailers
The National Retail Federation (NRF) is arriving in Australia this week to meet with the Australian wool industry and witness the progress being made in protecting the national flock against flystrike.
Representing some of the biggest global retailers of apparel, the NRF is being hosted by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the marketing, research and development body owned by 30,000 Australian woolgrowers. While in Australia, NRF deputy vice president Erik Autor will meet with 17 organisations representing woolgrowers, researchers, geneticists, animal welfare experts, wool brokers, processors and government.
AWI acting CEO Stuart McCullough said it was vital the wool industry continued to actively engage retailers and sponsoring Mr Autor's trip was a good investment for woolgrowers.
“The prevention of flystrike continues to be AWI's number one research priority with over $25 million spent on finding flystrike prevention alternatives in the last five years. AWI looks forward to showing Mr Autor the significant progress made in battling the blowfly on farms, in the laboratory and in the marketplace.”
The Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) will discuss with the NRF the importance of the National Wool Declaration (NWD) in providing transparency of supply and demand for wool buyers and sellers.
“It is important we highlight the use of the NWD to both buyers and sellers of wool at every available opportunity. It allows woolgrowers to declare their practices at sale and for the buyers of wool to send market signals up and down the wool pipeline,” AWEX CEO Mark Grave said.
Mr McCullough added the greatest encouragement that could be sent to Australian woolgrowers is a price incentive for unmulesed wool in the auction system.
Australian Stud Merino Breeders president Tom Ashby said it was crucial the world's retailers understood the enormous change underway throughout the industry, aided by a fast-tracked research and development program.
“Flystrike is a significant and ongoing animal welfare threat to the Australian flock and still has the potential to kill up to 3.5 million lambs annually across Australia. Genetics presents the best long-term solution and many breeders are working as quickly as they can towards a solution for their specific environment and conditions.”
Meanwhile the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) conducts quarterly audits of AWI's research progress, its latest review stated R&D projects aimed at breeding for breechstrike resistance are "producing encouraging results and that extension to farmers is ongoing". The report also indicates that the commercial release of the skin removal technology (clips) has provided a "viable alternative for some sheep producers", and that the intradermal technique, although still in development is showing real potential as another alternative by the end of 2011, pending welfare and registration evaluations. The AVA reports that pain relief has been widely adopted during 2008 - 2009 lambing seasons and that declarations of the flystrike control status of sheep is increasing.
Australian Wool Innovation Limited