AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation’s $90,000 a year partnership program with The Livestock Collective in Western Australia will not be funding agri-political activity, according to AWI chief executive officer John Roberts.
The Livestock Collective actively supports and lobbies on behalf of the live export trade that has been vital to the WA sheep and wool industry, but Mr Roberts said the three-year partnership with the collective is a capacity building and engagement program.
“It is about reaching more growers across the state and is about our wider efforts to do work differently and work better with WA wool growers.
“None of the work The Livestock Collective does as part of the partner program has any agri-political activity,” he said.
“As a company, we look for where there is a need and make a difference to wool growers.
“The Livestock Collective is a not for profit organisation and is not a policy body.”
Leaders from the collective, the live export trade and WA farmer organisations met in Canberra last month to lobby for the continuance of the live sheep trade in the face of the Albanese Government’s aim to phase out sheep exports by sea. AWI’s statutory funding agreement with the Federal Government stipulates it must not engage in agri-political activity and at all times must act in an apolitical and unbiased manner.
When asked why the funding was not channeled through the state farming organisations such as WAFarmers or the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA, or through AWI’s own Sheep’s Back network in WA, Mr Roberts said AWI decided The Livestock Collective provided the best fit for the program of work AWI wanted to commission.
“AWI will continue to provide extension programs specific to WA.”
The collective’s managing director and corporate governance and compliance officer for Emanuel Exports Dr Holly Ludeman said TLC has partnered with multiple statutory funded organisations over the last four years, including Meat & Livestock Australia and LiveCorp to deliver projects.
“Our capacity building projects have seen us partner with organisations like Angus Australia, Australian Pork Limited and KPCA for example.
“Our funding comes from delivery of projects and supporters across the livestock supply chain, including supply chain subscriptions from grass roots people that support us in the delivery of our vision as a not-for-profit,” she said.
A release on The Livestock Collective’s LinkedIn page said the partner program will focus on understanding the needs of wool producers in the different areas of WA and feed this important regional focused information into the extension network programs and capacity building projects.
Dr Ludeman said the partnership draws on the TLC network and is an opportunity to look at what WA needs and how extension can be done differently.
“We will be seeking to understand how people want to be engaged and if there are other opportunities to maximise the number of levy payers that get access to information.
“We don’t all want information in the same format and not everyone has time or energy for field days or full day events,” she said.
Dr Ludeman said TLC is passionate about capacity building and partnering with organisations to empower the supply chain.
“After delivery of projects for multiple organisations we are really proud and excited to be partnering with AWI.”
Mr Roberts said the partnership is all about providing more services and information for wool growers in WA.
‘As the research and development body for the wool industry we are focusing on innovation, technology, and research to take us into the future.
“The Livestock Collective will help us reach and work for WA growers in better and more effective ways,” he said.
TLC director Steven Bolt said TLC understands the importance of the wool industry in WA and offers a passionate team with a strong presence and connection to WA growers.
“There are significant opportunities and challenges ahead for WA wool growers
“The unique flock and production systems are hugely variable across the state which means levy payers have different needs in different regions,” he said.
“Supply chain disruption and pressures for competitive land use will be top of mind when growers are making forward planning decisions in the next few months and TLC would like to be there to help in whatever capacity we can.
“We are world leading in animal welfare and sustainability and we (the supply chain/industry) are resilient and will get through these tough times ahead together,” Mr Bolt said.
The collective said the sheep and wool industry of WA is an adaptable and resilient sector that is vital for regional communities and the nation’s Merino flock. WA’s flock of about 14.3 million sheep is the third largest in the nation.