AUSTRALIA’S National Wool Declaration seems likely to continue as a voluntary document for wool growers, but other NWD aspects might change after the current industry review is finalised.
Despite support from the Victorian Farmers Federation and NSW Farmers to mandate grower completion of the NWD, wool grower representative on the Australian Wool Exchange’s Industry Services Advisory Committee, Steve Harrison, believed the NWD would not be made compulsory.
“AWEX still views it as a voluntary document.”
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Sheep Central has been told issues with making the NWD compulsory or a condition of sale include the lack of powers held by AWEX, Australian Wool Handlers or other bodies to stop growers offering wool without an NWD.
“The hardest part is who is going to make it compulsory and how do you make it compulsory? ISAC committee chairman Russell Pattinson said, adding that it will be an “AWEX call” to decide on issues raised in the NWD review.
Mr Harrison said it would seem simple for brokers to demand an NWD with each clip.
“I mean, we can’t sell sheep or cattle without a National Vendor Declaration.”
Mr Harrison said the future of the Ceased Mulesing category on the NWD is still undecided. WoolProducers Australia’s original NWD review submission advocating the removal of the NWD Ceased Mulesing option is believed to have some AWEX support, but exporters wanted it continued. A recommendation to continue the NWD’s Ceased Mulesing option, with some definition changes to close procedural loopholes around the trading of mulesed sheep, is currently before the AWEX board.
“There is still a premium there for some wool growers to retain Ceased Mulesing, so while that is there I’m certainly not going to knock it on the head at this stage,” Mr Harrison said.
He said there was some pressure to phase out the Ceased Mulesing option by July 2018.
“But why would we go against the exporters?
“They are the ones buying the wool and while there is a premium for the 2-3 percent of growers that use it, we can’t knock it on the head.”
Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors president Chris Kelly said the NWD’s Ceased Mulesing option was needed commercially and should be maintained until the Non Mulesed declaration level improves. He also believes more promotion of the NWD was a better option to making it mandatory.
“It needs (the declaration rate) needs to keep moving; we can’t just let it sit where it is for a couple of years and then review it.”
AWEX chief executive officer Mark Grave said ISAC committee recommendations will be considered by the AWEX board at its next meeting February 20.
“There are still a few things that have not quite been finalised, in terms of (ISAC) recommendations, they’re still going though due process.
“Again being recommendations, it will be a question for the board (members) as to whether they accept them or not.”
Mr Grave said one of the interesting challenges for the ISAC members has been the approval of new mulesing pain relief products.
“It originally was just Tri-Solfen, but now we are looking at other products as well.”
Mr Grave said the ISAC members had met several times and have had “some good and robust debate”. He expected the AWEX board’s decisions on NWD issues to be finalised by the end of February.