Non-mulesed wool sale moves continue despite NASC knockback

Terry Sim March 3, 2021

NSW non-mulesed wool grower Paul Favaloro has tried to organise a designated non-mulesed wool sale.

A GROWER call for a designated non-mulesed wool sale in late March has been denied by the Australian Wool Exchange’s National Auction Selling Committee.

However, non-mulesed wool grower Paul Favaloro said four brokers have indicated they will offer possibly more than 300 bales of NM wool from separate sections in their auction catalogues in the Week 40 auctions in Melbourne and Sydney.

Mr Favaloro hoped the listing of the NM wool by the four brokers in the one week would limit the backlash from any mulesing wool growers critical of the sale of NM wool listed in separate catalogue sections.

“Hopefully, it will just become the norm,” he said.

“My objective was to try to help brokers not be discriminated against.

“The mulesing sector is discriminating against the non-mulesed and they’re holding the brokers over a barrel.”

Sheep Central has been told brokers who had previously offered non-mulesed wool in special sales or listed NM wool in separate catalogue sections have been criticised by mulesing growers or lost clips to other brokers. Week 40 on the AWEX auction schedule begins on March 29.

Designated non-mulesed wool sales unlikely to increase awareness – NASC

In mid-February, Mr Favaloro told AWEX that having an industry-recognised designated non-mulesed wool sale in Week 40 would provide added security for brokers involved against any potential loss of grower clientele from those who did not agree with the non-mulesed concept.

He believed if NM wool was sold in separate catalogue sections it would make any price premiums above mulesed wool prices more visible, encouraging greater uptake of NM wool production and National Wool Declaration use. Mr Favaloro also suggested NM designated sales would allow growers, brokers and buyers to showcase non-mulesed wool, “proving to consumers that the wool industry is serious about their concerns for animals and the environment.” He believed AWEX approval for a designated sale could set a progressive precedent for the Australian wool industry.

In late February, AWEX National Auction Selling Committee secretary David Cother wrote to Mr Favaloro and told him the committee decided at its 19 February meeting not to implement a designated NM sale.

The National Auction Selling Committee was established by AWEX in 2004 to administer the conduct of auction sales on behalf of auction sellers and buyers. The committee has an independent chairman and eight elected representatives — four buyers and four sellers — elected by auction buyers and sellers for a three-year term. AWEX provides all administrative and secretarial support functions to NASC.

Mr Cother said the committee believed NM wool is well understood and recognised by the commercial pipeline.

“Designated NM sales in themselves are unlikely to increase the level of awareness or demand in these sectors,” he said.

Mr Cother said regardless of lot number, NM wool is easily accessed and identified in printed and electronic auction catalogues via the mulesing status field against each lot.

He said most buyers have sophisticated buying systems that allow them to download electronic catalogues into their databases and select/identify lots pre-sale appropriate for their orders.

“Given the selection abilities referred to in the previous paragraph, neither broker or buyer representatives on the committee believed it was necessary or economic to group, list, or display NM lots together as an industry lotting rule.”

Mr Cother said the current designated sale types on the Australian wool selling program — Australian Superfine (AS) and Tasmanian Feature (T) sales — are legacies of sales in the Newcastle and Launceston selling centres, which no longer operate.

“In both cases, the level of aggregation has diminished over time as growers choose to spread their selling over other sales, taking advantage of accessing the market at a time of their choosing.”

Mr Cother said buyers have expressed a preference for NM wool to be spread over a longer time frame rather than ‘lumpy’ offerings.

“Aggregation can lead to funding pressure and misleading price signals.”

Mr Cother said most pre-sale selection and post-sale market reports identify the quantities of NM wool on offer, along with other technical characteristics.

“Premium and Discount reporting on characteristics is based on sustainable price signals based on regular supply and demand.

“Price signals from individual sales may not be reliable indicators,” he said.

Mr Cother said while open cry auction sales may not be designated as NM, this does not preclude any broker from offering an auction catalogue with aggregated NM quantities as a commercial marketing initiative.

“NASC imposes no restrictions on individual brokers in terms of the type of wool they catalogue for any given sale.”

More AWEX reporting needed – Favaloro

Moving forward from the NASC letter, Mr Favaloro believed AWEX needed to do more reporting to the general public of NM wool sale results, volumes and price comparisons with mulesed wool.

“I know the information is out there, you can pay your $3000 and get AWEX to send it to you, but what grower can afford that?”

“If AWEX is trying to do the right thing by the producer, they should be making it (the information) freely available.”


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  1. Don Mudford, March 4, 2021

    Good effort Paul, well done. You had an idea and went with it. Congratulations. Someone needs to save us — the industry — from ourselves. If AWEX has the information and brokers are paying their $3000 for it, why aren’t brokers passing on this information weekly in their market reports? We receive market information from various brokers and none supply a report on market information of non-mulesed wool weekly. Australian Wool Innovation won’t tell the grower market information, that they are duty bound to pass onto growers. Some media won’t talk about mulesing. Sheep Central will put up both sides, well done Sheep Central.
    How can growers make an informed decision about the financial benefits of not mulesing, if they can’t get correct information as freely as all wool types? As for the trade, they have clearly stated they won’t purchase wool from mulesed sheep from 2025. So they have clearly shown growers where to be situated with their flocks going forward.

  2. Paul Favaloro, March 4, 2021

    Along with the four brokers confirming their commitment to a non-mulesed wool catalogue, every other broker contacted offered support for a NM catalogue in week 40.
    All the brokers want is for the growers to ask for their clip to be in a NM catalogue and fully declared on the National Wool Declaration. If you are proud of your wool and how you produce it, just ask your broker. This promotes your wool, ethics and support for your broker. The NWD is the start; the buyers are then able to put a fair value on your wool.

    • Peter Small, March 4, 2021

      Paul, brokers obviously try to respond to what their clients ask. But the important thing from the trade’s position is to make as much non-mulesed (NM) wool available as possible immediately growers decide to sell. And yes, of course, there must be an industry-wide compliance with completing the National Wool Declaration. My view on NWDs is that like livestock, brokers should refuse to receive wool into store without a completed NWD. Like livestock, the wool should be returned to the grower’s property. That is the only way to get 100 percent compliance, which is essential.

  3. Peter Small, March 3, 2021

    My advice to my fellow growers is to offer your clip, whatever its mulesing status, immediately you consider conditions that suit your circumstances are favourable. Non-mulesed wool is in strong demand and growers should make their wool available as per my first point.
    Restricting supply to meet some arbitrary forward date not related to demand is naive and brokers who resist this are acting in the best interests of the whole trade.

    • Jim Gordon, March 4, 2021

      Peter Small, I totally agree with you. Why are we trying to control the wool buyer? They are very capable people and can buy wool when it suits them.
      I want to shop when it suits me, why are we trying to tell the wool buyer when to buy wool? This is the basic problem with the wool industry. Stop trying to control others. In the case of selling wool, ask the person that is buying the wool. It’s not rocket science.

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