Will the National Wool Declaration need to be mandatory?

Terry Sim October 21, 2016
AWEX CEO Mark Grave

AWEX CEO Mark Grave

CONTINUED growth in National Wool Declaration adoption may negate the need for the animal welfare status document to be formally made mandatory, according to AWEX chief executive officer Mark Grave.

Analysis of the most recent NWD figures also indicated that more bales — up 23.3 percent to 88,454 bales — offered from July-September this year were declared as coming from sheep mulesed with pain relief compared to the same period last year.

However, the NWD adoption statistics from the Australian Wool Exchange show the amount of declared wool from non-mulesed sheep only marginally increased by 0.1pc to 8.1pc of First Hand Offered bales. Click here to get Sheep Central story links sent to your email inbox.

The AWEX NWD data also showed slightly less wool – 0.1pc — is being declared as coming from ceased mulesed mobs and the number of bales declared as shorn from mulesed sheep has increased – by about one percent – to 22.1pc of FHO bales.

Mr Grave said the recent NWD figures – with the number First hand Offered bales being declared for their Pain Relief, Non-Mulesed, Ceased Mulesed or Mulesed status exceeding 70 percent in some states – showed the industry was responding to market signals without the need to have NWDs forced upon it.

The national NWD FHO adoption rate for the first quarter of the current wool-selling season – July to September – was 59.5pc, up 11.6pc to 53.3pc in the first quarter of last season.

Mr Grave said in the last 12-18 months there had been really strong movements in NWD adoption.

“If you go from 55 percent to 60pc, that’s nearly 10pc growth in the space of a year.

“What’s more interesting is that when you look at the breakdown state-by-state, you are seeing some of the states like Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales are getting into the early 60s, high 70s,” he said.

“So a lot of the states on the eastern seaboard are certainly getting behind it.”

Mr Grave said the NWD adoption rate is increasing at a steady rate, largely because of broker support.

Tasmania leading the NWD charge

Tasmania is leading the charge in NWD use growth as a clip percentage, with the number of First Hand Offered bales with NWDs increasing 35.99pc from 56.9pc in the first quarter last season to 77.38pc this season.

Victoria’s NWD adoption grew 22.86pc from 60.76pc to 74.65pc, NSW’s declarations rose 11.78pc from 59.72pc to 66.76pc, and Queensland’s figures improved the most, by 38pc from 40.57pc to 55.99pc. Western Australia has the lowest percentage of NWD adoptions at 28.96pc, but the state’s first quarter 2016 results represent 20.36pc growth from the comparative 2015 figure of 24.06pc. NWD use grew marginally in South Australia, by just 1.07pc from 62.2pc to 62.87pc.

Mr Grave said the NWD state figures showed there was good general support across breed and micron types in the eastern states, with a good understanding of the market and the need for the information.

“The brokers have been right behind it and support has followed,” he said.

“By and large you are getting to the stage that it is not mandatory, but it is almost 100pc adoption.”

“You are getting to the stage where you don’t need ‘mandatory’ because the industry is determining that it is essential,” he said.

“It shows that the industry is managing and responding to these issues itself without the need to have it forced upon them.

“Now that we’ve crossed 50pc and we are crossing 60pc it gathers its own momentum and the job now is make sure it is still relevant, that the growers are making the declaration and making the information available.

“There is obviously 40pc to go, but certainly I would hope the speed it has gathered recently would be sustained for a few years yet, until we get to a much higher declaration rate.”

Mr Grave said it was clear with the support of brokers and now grower groups in several states, wool producers were recognising and understanding the need for the NWD.

“I think the results are following.”

The Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group wants the NWD to be a condition of sale for all wool and NSW Farmers has supported making the NWD mandatory and encouraging pain relief when mulesing. The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia and the Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors also support wider adoption of the NWD.

NWD review recommendations by November

Mr Grave said the recent NWD adoption figures were all good information for the current NWD review being conducted by AWEX’s Industry Service Advisory Committee. He said two meetings had been held to consider submissions to the review, with possibly another to be held.

“I’m expecting we will have recommendations going to our (AWEX) board at the end of November.”

The NWD is considering submissions around the need for the various NWD classifications and potential measure to increase NWD adoption, including mandating its use.

“Everything is up for debate and those issues are being considered because they have been raised,” Mr Grave said.

NWD data shows declared mulesed clips increased

Based on sale lots, the NWD adoption rate in the first quarter of 2016-17 is at 60.1pc, up from 53.5pc in the first quarter of 2015-16, a 12.3pc year-on-year increase.

  • NM 9.6pc up from 9.3pc (+0.3pc)
  • CM 3pc down from 3.2pc (-0.2pc)
  • PR 26pc up from 20.6pc (+5.4pc) = 26.2pc increase YOY
  • M 21.5pc up from 20.5pc (+1pc)

Based on bales, the NWD adoption rate is 59.5pc up from 53.3pc (+6.2pc), 11.6pc increase YOY

  • NM 8.1pc up from 8pc (+0.1pc) to 27,704 bales
  • CM 2.8pc down from 2.9pc (-0.1pc) to 9504 bales
  • PR 26.4pc up from 21.4pc (+5pc) = 23.3pc increase YOY to 88,454 bales.
  • M 22.1pc up from 21pc (+1.1pc)

Adoption rates by state.

2015/16              2016/17              Increase YOY

Total                      53.3pc                  59.5pc                  +11.6pc

NSW                      59.72pc                66.76pc                +11.78pc

QLD                       40.57pc                 55.99pc               +38pc

SA                          62.2pc                   62.87pc                +01.07pc

TAS                        56.9pc                  77.38pc                 +35.99pc

VIC                         60.76pc                74.65pc                 +22.86pc

WA                         24.06pc                28.96pc                 +20.36pc

Click here to see a state-by-state comparison of pain relief use.

Source: AWEX.


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  1. Edward Wymer., October 23, 2016

    Congratulations to Mark Grave and AWEX on the successfully promoting the National Wool Declaration to its current position. It is a far more sensible scheme than the alternative — the Responsible Wool Standard — which is a ridiculously expensive scheme that has been designed and pushed by Textile Exchange. Let’s hope we don’t hear any more about it.

  2. Chick Olsson, October 23, 2016

    While this is good news, as an industry, there is a woeful inadequacy in collectively dealing with welfare as a legitimate concern. With wool demand still falling, and prices in US dollar terms still the same as ten years ago, fine wool is replicating the Kodak story and sadly losing relevance, like it or not.

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