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Caution urged on H&M announcement

16
Feb '08
The Australian Wool & Sheep Industry Taskforce urged caution in reporting a relatively old story on Swedish retailer H&M's relationship with Australian wool.

Australian media is reporting a decision by the Swedish fashion chain to direct its wool purchasing towards countries other than Australia that can guarantee the supply of wool from non-mulesed sheep.

The Australian wool industry is the largest producer of the finest quality wool in the world and supports a high standard of animal welfare in caring for its sheep flock.

Mulesing is a once-off animal husbandry practice used by Australian woolgrowers to prevent the painful and potentially fatal condition of flystrike that occurs in the breech area of sheep. It provides lifetime protection against breech flystrike. Without it up to 3 million sheep could die of flystrike annually.

Chairman of the Australian Wool & Sheep Industry Taskforce's operations group, Nyngan woolgrower Don Hamblin, said the publicity comes just days before a planned meeting with company executives.

“Myself and other members of the taskforce will be meeting with representatives of H&M in Stockholm and it seems unusual that this publicity has occurred just days out from this meeting,” he said.

In November 2004 Australian wool and sheep industry leaders unanimously committed to phasing out the current practice of mulesing by 31 December 2010.

The following year the industry formed an agreement with the U.S. National Retail Federation (NRF) detailing the work that would be undertaken leading up to the phase out. The NRF and its member organisations, of which H&M is one, agreed to continue supporting the industry on the basis of this agreement.


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