AUSTRALIA’S premier Merino conference MerinoLink will go ahead at Wagga Wagga next week despite recent concerns about recent interstate movement of COVID sufferers from Victoria.
However, the Australian Superfine Wool Growers’ Association’s annual farm tour and dinner scheduled for Ararat on 26-27 June has been postponed until 23 October 2021 due to COVID restrictions in Victoria.
The MerinoLink conference and field day program is due to start 16 June and will feature Meat & Livestock Australia managing director Jason Strong as a guest speaker for the first time.
MerinoLink conference co-ordinator Emma Grabham said organisers were monitoring the COVID situation very closely “holding their breath” waiting for the exposure sites for a travelling Victorian couple to be announced.
“And we certainly encourage people to go and get tested if they have been around those places, but at this point, we are continuing with our planning day-to-day.
“We plan to proceed and all our venues have COVID-Safe plans in place.”
She said the organisers were ready to go to a full online event if necessary, and some speakers from Melbourne will be presenting remotely.
“The plan already involves all of Thursday’s sessions being live-streamed and we have people registered from interstate who are signed up to that now and we can convert everybody to that if need be.”
Merinolink chairman Michael Field said the conference is ready to go and with a back-up plan to go fully virtual if there are changes to COVID-19 regulations over the weekend.
“We are really looking forward to getting this show on the road,” he said.
“We are alert but not alarmed.”
The conference will start with a lead-in session on Wednesday that will include an on-farm wether inspection with Craig Wilson from the Australian Merino Production Trial, a Sheep Genetics’ breeders update with Emma McCrabb, a Business Edge session with Holmes and Sackett’s John Francis and Mentor Meet-Up when Hour-of-Power applicants will be introduced to conference mentors.
Other speakers will include director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University Professor Mark Howden, consultant Phil Graham on pasture resilience and Sandy McEachern from Holmes Sackett talking about grazing crops, and chair of the Sheep Sustainability Steering Group, Professor Bruce Allworth.
Conference participants will also get an update on Merino Lifetime Productivity Project, learn about pre-joining ram testing from Tom Graham and wool forward marketing from Mike Avery from South Aurora Markets.
A field day program is being developed for Friday 18 June that will include sessions at the Graham Centre, the NSW DPI Research Centre and Charles Sturt University, local industry providers and equipment manufacturers and a meat quality option. The 2020 MerinoLink conference was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Click here for the full MerinoLink conference program and registration details.
ASWGA secretary Melissa Mulley said the committee felt the risks were too high to hold the event at this time in light of the recent COVID-19 cases and unknown changes regarding restrictions.
“We apologise for the inconvenience this will cause and we hope you understand it is beyond our control and a matter of health and safety.”
Ms Mulley said there will also be a change of keynote speaker from AQustralian Wool Innovation chair Colette Garnsey to AWI director Jock Laurie, due to previously arranged commitments on the new date. Anyone seeking a refund or wanting to re-register closer to the new date should contact Ms Mulley on [email protected] Otherwise all registrations and sponsorships will remain valid for the October date.