Stock Handling & Animal Welfare

Poor feedback response to draft sheep sustainability framework

Sheep Central, December 4, 2020

ONLY 25 responses had been received to a feedback survey on Australia’s first Sheep Sustainability Framework up to this week.

There are an estimated 32,000 sheep producing operations in Australia and chair of the Sheep Sustainability Steering Group, Professor Bruce Allworth, said the feedback was very disappointing.

“And it’s not only about sheep producers, we are wanting comments from people further down the pipeline, not just the industry.”

Consultation on the draft framework – either by submission or a survey — closes on 9 December, 2020, so that the document can be finalised ahead of the official launch prior to April 2021.

Professor Allworth said this is the last chance for feedback from the public on the framework.

“The next stage is finalisation by the steering group in light of comments received from this consultation.”

Professor Allworth said the steering group had consulted widely among the main organisations in the sheep meat and fibre supply chains – from grower, processor and animal welfare bodies to retailers — but lots more feedback was needed from individuals, including processors and customers.

“Maybe the difficulty is we have done a lot of consultation apart from the public process, so maybe people feel they have already been consulted and we’ve had their input, though I would have thought we would have got more than 25 (survey responses).

“We’re actually looking for feedback from individuals from any of the organisations we’ve consulted with.

“If I wanted to put a really positive spin on this, the fact that we are getting very few engagements means that people are very comfortable with framework and are fully supportive of it, but you would like to hear that in survey form,” he said.

“We would like to hear from people out there who feel that they haven’t been consulted and haven’t had their say – because in the end it’s their framework, it’s not mine it’s not yours.

“We want them to own it — this is their chance.”

Industry trying desperately to get engagement

Sheep Producers of Australia chief executive officer Stephen Crisp said the framework that would map out the sustainability of the industry, including environmental and profitability factors.

“If they think it is just about environmental issues, they might not be as engaged.”

Mr Crisp said the framework will inform how producers’ levy dollars are spent.

“It maps out the framework that will inform the strategies for Meat & Livestock Australia and Animal Health Australia and will influence where levy dollars are spent, no doubt.”

Mr Crisp said the industry is trying desperately to get engagement on the framework.

Peak wool grower representative body, WoolProducers Australia has also reminded sheep and wool producers and industry stakeholders to have their say on the framework.

WoolProducers president Ed Storey said the framework is aimed at providing transparency around key facets of Australia’s unique sheep and wool production and supply chain attributes.

WPA said the framework will identify sustainability priorities and will evidence industry progress against these priorities through metrics around key indicators. It will outline industry’s commitment to sustainability through four key themes of caring for sheep, enhancing the environment and climate, caring for people, customers and communities, and ensuring a financially sustainable industry.

“As an industry driven mechanism, the Framework will help identify areas of strength and areas for improvement, which we can then collectively use as an opportunity to prove our sustainability credentials to both domestic and international customers,” Mr Storey said.

“It is therefore imperative that producers and stakeholders get involved in this consultation to ensure that we as an industry are setting the narrative around these issues.

“Generally speaking, we have a great story to tell so we need to stand by our production practices and demonstrate to the world that we are a sustainable industry,” he said.

To have your say on the Sheep Sustainability Framework click here.


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  1. Adrian Tudor, December 16, 2020

    I suggest a small levy on sheep sales be payable to a body in charge of rare breeds from around the world. This establishment would be a genetic repository for use by growers to infuse desired characteristics into their flocks. Semen, embryos and live animal sales at affordable prices. Or if we had a government worth their salt, they could fund it.

  2. Donald Cameron, December 10, 2020

    This is a dangerous concept riddled with the agenda of the woke and straight out of the Greens playbook,
    that risks placing farmers in strait jackets.

    A pipe dream dreamt up by detached bystanders wearing rose-tinted glasses, that promises everything to everybody.

    Ask WPA, SPA or your steering group, why no-one has shown any interest in this expensive vanity project.

    I would suggest the industry is effectively leaderless and everyone is still asleep at the wheel, and trusting their fate in a handful of unelected “experts”.

    Investing in a solution for footrot would be a better use of your time, a more sensible use of the funds and have good outcomes for animal welfare.

  3. Donald Cameron, December 8, 2020

    Hmmm… 25 responses eh?
    Perhaps its time to pack up and do something more useful, for this appears to be just another self-justified, fruitless exercise resulting in yet more rent seeking, more compliance and more costs.

    A better focus might be attempting to control this government’s reckless criticism of foreign governments. Farmers are now suffering from our government’s arrogant abuse of both Qatar and China over their investigations of a baby found in an airport bin and the virus outbreak respectively.

    Qatar doesn’t abuse us over Syrian civilians killed by RAAF and a previously welcoming China would not have raised murders by our SAS.

    But now, thoroughly upset by ScoMo, we can expect China to abuse us just as we have abused them and then some.

    Qatar’s market for Aussie lamb has been damaged and China’s market for Aussie agriculture has been damaged.

    Perhaps ScoMo’s next rant will be to abuse India over its treatment of Kashmir? He might even score another own goal and smash Indian imports of Aussie chickpeas.

    So what’s the point of spending a billion dollars on DFAT and training up diplomats and trade specialists, when we don’t use diplomacy?

  4. Robert Harris, December 7, 2020

    This is a positive direction, moving forward to ensure there is transparency, integrity and greater consideration for animal welfare.

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