INTERNATIONAL wool processor and trader Laurence Modiano has taken issue with an industry claim that 60-70 percent of mulesed Merino lambs are treated with pain relief.
In a letter to WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall, Mr Modiano said she had stated that 60-70 percent of Merino lambs were treated with the local post-operative anaesthetic and antiseptic gel spray pain relief Tri-Solfen.
“Yet only 21pc of wool on the National Wool Declaration is declared PR (pain relief),” Mr Modiano said.
“In addition, only 52pc of the clip is declared on the NWD, effectively meaning only 11pc of wools available to the trade are declared PR.
“Nowhere near the 60-70pc you purport,” he wrote to Ms Hall.
Mr Modiano also responded to WPA comments that buyers should pay a premium for NM (non-mulesed), CM (ceased mulesing) and PR wool.
“We can only pay you whatever our customers are willing to pay.
“Depending on market conditions, our margins can be very tight,” he said.
“On many sales my competitors and I lose money just to keep our machines turning.”
Mr Modiano said he hoped that as demand for wool from non-mulesed sheep rose, Modiano would be able further to increase prices paid for it.
“Such growers deserve to be rewarded for the cost and effort involved.
“In the meantime, I strongly believe that, by making pain relief mandatory, not only are growers doing right by their sheep, they are also, for a small cost, counterbalancing the stigma of perceived animal cruelty in the world of media and brands,” he said.
“If mulesing is a necessity, then analgesia should be too.”
Mr Modiano said by providing more information on their wools, growers will be helping themselves and the consumers who buy them.
“If nothing is done, we risk the brands attaching themselves to a commercial certification and audit body that knows nothing about wool and will make life excruciating for all those who depend on it.”
On its website, WoolProducers Australia said it believed the natural uptake of growers using pain relief is encouraging, which is why it supported the voluntary use of pain relief.
WoolProducers did not receive a response to Sheep Central questions about Mr Modiano’s latest letter.