A SIX-MINUTE Australian Wool Innovation Woolmark video highlighting the plight of drought-stricken Australian wool growers has given international industry stakeholders a unique insight into the reasons behind the nation’s falling clip.
The video shown at the recent 88th International Wool Textile Organisation Congress in Venice Italy has helped Australian delegates explain why the nation’s wool clip has shrunk and is not expected to recover for years.
Australia’s wool production is forecast to fall below 300 million kilograms for the first time in more than 90 years in 2019 and is expected to continue to fall next season. The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee has forecast that Australian shorn wool production for 2018/19 will be 298 mkgs greasy. The committee’s first forecast for 2019/20 is for shorn wool production to be 285 mkgs greasy, a further fall of 4.5pc, due to a reduction in the number of sheep expected to be shorn.
Australian Wool Innovation director Don Macdonald included the video in his presentation at the IWTO Congress, where he told delegates that the current drought across eastern Australia, is, in many areas, the worst in living memory.
“Unfortunately the hardest hit areas of the drought cover most of the wool-producing regions, from central and south-west Queensland, across of New South Wales, into the pastoral regions of South Australia and key pockets across Victoria,” he said.
Mr Macdonald said Australia’s longest river, the Darling, hasn’t had a decent flow since late 2016, and during the recent summer there were massive fish deaths in stagnant waterholes along river’s lower reaches.
“Thousands of wool growers have embarked on a huge financial and physical effort to retain their breeding flock to recover as quickly as possible when the drought breaks.
“The cost has been enormous and the regained confidence in the wool market has led their decision to feed and retain breeding sheep, rather than take the easy path to sell and restock,” he said.
“Of utmost importance to these farmers is the welfare of their animals and the protection of their land and environment.
“In most cases these sheep are contained in smaller feeding areas to conserve the remainder of the farm.
The short video featured three families from two of the worst-affected areas.
“These growers are striving to stay in a position to continue to supply wool to the world,” Mr Macdonald said.
The Macdonald and Co Facebook page reported that the video was very well received by the 400-plus gathering and the feedback from grateful wool exporters was that it helps tell their story about why there is less wool, with more dust and of a lower micron.
Endeavour Wool Exports trading manager Josh Lamb said the video “did wonders” and he is hoping to have it shown at the 31st Nanjing Wool Market Conference on 20-22 September 2019. The video brought tears to the eyes of some delegates.
“People were genuinely shocked about it.”
Wool industry consultant Peter Morgan said the Woolmark video had a very powerful impact on the IWTO delegates, both on those from Australia and overseas.
“What the video portrayed was really quite frightening and really demonstrated what so many of our wool growers have been working with and are facing at the moment – it was very graphic.
“I found in talking with some of the overseas people was that while they knew and had heard about the drought, it really brought it home to them.”