Lamb Production

Industry support for Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework

Terry Sim July 21, 2017

Sheepmeat Council of Australia CEO Dr Kat Giles

AUSTRALIAN sheep meat leaders are reviewing strategies to manage a range of risks to the sector, including mulesing, before starting work on an industry-wide sustainability framework.

Sheepmeat Council  of Australia chief executive officer Dr Kat Giles said the council will be reviewing policies and strategies to manage a range of risks faced by the industry.

She said the council recognised the industry’s responsibilities to the community and the consumers of Australian sheep meat and lamb.

“We are in the process of reviewing, with Meat & Livestock Australia, industry risks.

“This review process commenced with activities at our last meeting, including the undertaking of a broad risk assessment, and will continue at our next meeting with a session on risk management,” she said.

Dr Giles said the risk to the industry posed by mulesing, as mentioned recently by MLA managing director Richard Norton, is one issue the SCA board has committed to reviewing in the short term.

But in recognition of the need for a whole-of- industry approach, which included the wool and sheep meat value chains, SCA has also committed to working with MLA to develop an Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework, she said.

“The Australian Beef Sustainability Framework was developed recently through the Red Meat Advisory Council, and SCA views a similar approach as an opportunity for the sheep industry to work together.

“We have started conversations with WoolProducers Australia, and throughout the sheep meat supply chain and intend to bring all the industry groups together in the coming months to finalise the process and governance arrangements for developing the framework,” Dr Giles said.

“Whilst it is early days in the process, we anticipate that the framework would cover economic resilience, animal welfare, environmental stewardship, people and the community across the value chain, similar to the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.

“It is anticipated that once developed, it will help the sheep industry monitor and respond to issues and one day, underpin marketing.”

Dr Giles said the development of an Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework will take time and the SCA is committed to consulting with stakeholders throughout the value chain in its development.

WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall said WPA supported a whole of industry strategic approach to animal welfare and mulesing. Requests for discussions on this with Australian Wool Innovation had been “rebuffed”.

Ms Hall said there needs to be an industry-wide strategic approach on animal welfare and mulesing, “which is something that we have been calling for for quite a while now.”

“So we hope that commonsense prevails and there is an opportunity for all stakeholders to sit down and start planning in the best interests of industry.”

Ms Hall said WPA is commencing discussions with the SCA on the Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework.

An AWI spokesman said fly strike has been the research, development and marketing body’s number one research priority for many years.

“AWI has had an effective RD&E strategy in place for fly strike control for many years and the development of our R&D is regularly audited by the Australian Veterinary Association and shared and discussed with MLA, WoolProducers Australia, state farming organisations, growers and other stakeholders both domestically and internationally.

“The most recent review occurred in May 2017 for the whole AWI Sheep Health and Welfare Program with 40 attendees,” he said.

“Updates on the AWI Breech Strike RD&E Program have been held in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 and outcomes are all posted at”


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  1. Craig Hinchliffe, July 22, 2017

    Can levy payers expect the Sheepmeat Council of Australia board to step up?

    I am heartened to hear that the SCA board is to undertake due diligence involving the development of a ‘sustainability framework’ through consultative processes. Given ABARES has documented that the majority or small to medium farms in Australia have a critical dependency on ‘off-farm’ income for a large portion of their ‘disposable cash income’, the issues contributing to the declining terms of trade need to be addressed by the SCA board in a professional and transparent manner. (

    Recognising the SCA mandate to serve its levy payers, in addition to vocal industry actors and consumer groups, it would seem logical for this study to ‘ground truth’ the data associated with many industry based predictions. While much is written on agricultural production statistics, food consumption trends and technological innovation, significantly less attention seems to be directed to the coping strategies adopted by ‘food and fibre producing households’ to ‘make ends meet’. Industry-level production and supply chain statistics and trend lines look great on charts, but can often mask the realities of power imbalances across distorted value-chains and the impact on returns for small and medium size family farms (AKA: food-producing households). The SCA board has a critical leadership role to play in ensuring a ‘whole of industry’ analysis is conducted and risks of continued unfair and unsustainable value chain distortion are documented in an accurate, evidence based, transparent manner (no political easy task). For this task, the SCA board will require better data sets and the moral courage and conviction to confront the many ‘sacred cows’ of competition policy and regulatory burden contributing to the ‘declining terms of trade’ experienced by so many farming households across Australia today. My hope is that they are up for this challenge.

  2. Barbara Hyatt, July 22, 2017

    Great AWI, put all your research dollars into treating a problem that’s preventable. You should have changed your focus a decade ago and the wool industry would not be struggling for markets.

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