Wool declaration to stay voluntary, with more on-farm inspections mooted

Terry Sim April 24, 2017

AWEX CEO Mark Grave

AUSTRALIA’S National Wool Declaration program will remain voluntary, but on-farm inspections and desk audit verifications will be increased where appropriate.

The Australian Wool Exchange has said an ongoing communication plan and strategy will be implemented to create greater supply chain awareness of the NWD’s importance.

After the latest NWD review, the AWEX board has also decided to retain, but change, the Ceased Mulesing category, despite some industry pressure to drop it.

The Victorian Farmers Federation and NSW Farmers had sought the mandating of the NWD and WoolProducers Australia supported increased NWD use with a view to making it mandatory. WPA had also sought the removal of the CM category to make the NWD more user-friendly.

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AWEX chief executive officer Mark Grave has provided an outcomes summary of the AWEX board’s consideration and approval of recommendations made by the Industry Services Advisory Committee after the NWD and its integrity program review.

Mr Grave said the AWEX board noted that the increase in the declaration rate to currently more than 60 percent of eligible wool is a positive sign of NWD acceptance as an integral component of the detailed information required by today’s wool supply chain.

“AWEX regularly receives requests from exporters and retailers seeking certificates validating the declared mulesing status of their purchases.

“These requests have grown significantly over the past two years as have the international inquiries regarding the NWD,” he said.

“AWEX received submissions for the review from industry organisations, growers, individual companies as well as the Italian Wool Trade Association.

“This clearly indicates the global interest in the NWD.”

The proposed communication plan and strategy would build on the sound foundation of declarations to date and to address concerns about the current completion and compliance rates of the NWD, Mr Grave’s summary said.

The independent audit program carried out by AWEX as part of the NWD Integrity Program will, where appropriate, do more verifications of the use of pain relief at mulesing and more on-farm inspections for declarations of Non-Mulesed or Ceased Mulesing status, in response to the increased adoption of the NWD.

Increasing evidence of NM price incentives

In the summary, Mr Grave said there appeared to be increasingly firm evidence of price incentives in the market for NM wool.

“As a result, there is a need to expand the analysis and reports of potential price differentials, and where robustly evident, report these to industry.”

The inclusion of buyer/processor testimonials is also considered critical to the success of a communication strategy and extension campaign.

Mr Grave said the review considered all aspects of the NWD – Integrity Program. As a result of the review and the need for timely information, AWEX has since appointed an additional On Farm Inspector to add depth to the inspection team.

Mr Grave’s summary said there was no AWEX board support to make the NWD mandatory, but CM category will remain due to its commercial support from buyers; and potentially, CM may provide an incentive for growers moving towards non-mulesing.

The definition of CM has been improved to provide greater clarity about its use and intent, his summary said.

The CM definition would now read: ‘Wool from sheep where mulesing has ceased on the property. No lambs born on this property in the last 12 months have been mulesed. No purchased sheep are mulesed.’

The application of CM will remain a property declaration, as opposed to a mob declaration, as it is a statement of the husbandry practice at that point in time.

Family Interlots of the same mulesing status will be able to be combined and have a mulesing status applied.

Mr Grave said AWEX will continue to monitor the emergence and uptake of new pain relief products in the market place.

The mulesing status codes will remain the same: NM = Non-Mulesed, CM = Ceased Mulesing, PR = Mulesed with Pain Relief, Mulesed (M) = Mulesed without Pain Relief, ND = Not Declared, (status unknown).

The AWEX board has approved the NWD Version 7.0, April 2017 attached to the full AWEX NWD review outcomes summary here.

Copies of the NWD combined with the Classer’s Specification, as well as separate NWDs, are available on the AWEX website

Source: AWEX.


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  1. Edward Wymer, April 25, 2017

    Congratulations to the Australian Wool Exchange for pushing the National Wool Declaration. Any wool grower who doesn’t provide one qualifies for dill of the week.
    But please easy with the talk of on farm inspections, desk audit verification and buyer/processor testimonials, all useless bulltish.

  2. Peterb Small, April 25, 2017

    Failure to make NWD’s mandatory is yet another example of the Australian wool industries institutional failure and failure of leadership. We seem unable to make a decision based on self-regulation and self interest. Unless it is legislated we remain inept; yet as an industry we all groan about government intrusion, government regulation and associated ‘red tape’.
    Try selling a shipment of lambs or cattle without complying with National Vendor Declaration and see what happens. Come on Mark Grave, you are paid enough money to provide better leadership than this.

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