Wool trade policy program not funded in Federal Budget

Sheep Central, May 15, 2024

WoolProducers Australia CEO Jo Hall.

PEAK wool grower body WoolProducers Australia has described the Albanese Government’s budget denial of $2 million to establish a trade policy program as another “kick in the teeth” for Australian growers.

WoolProducers said it had asked for the wool trade policy funding to continue the trade expansion work it identified in the ‘Ensuring a sustainable Australian Wool Industry through market diversification and risk mitigation’ project.

After the completion of the project earlier this year, WoolProducers requested the Federal Government establish a three-year wool trade policy program to support the Australian wool industry’s endeavours to expand its wool trade and mitigate trade risk.

However, although Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt in February said the project, funded through two Australian Government Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation grants worth $1.44 million, provided a clear direction for Australia’s wool industry to follow, he added: “Now that this groundwork has been laid, the path is clear for our wool brokers and exporters to find new pathways for market diversification.”

Mr Watt did not state whether he agreed with the establishment of a three-year wool trade policy program, but a spokesman said the Australian Government is committed to expanding and diversifying access to export markets in support of industry’s ambition to grow the agriculture sector to $100 billion in farm gate value by 2030.

However, WoolProducers said today the Federal Government “has continued to demonstrate how out of touch it is with Australia’s sheep and wool industry by not delivering on an essential trade policy program for Australia’s multi-billion wool industry.”

“A mere couple of days after this government made the devastating and illogical announcement that they will be shutting down the legitimate and profitable live sheep export trade, which will have negative impacts on the wool industry, they have failed to invest in work that could assist producers who remain in the industry,” WoolProducers CEO Jo Hall said.

“Despite all the talk the government have made in the face of the live sheep export ban that they would assist industry to transition to alternative markets for sheep products, they have failed to deliver on a program that would actually achieve tangible outcomes for woolgrowers,” she said.

WoolProducers said the first phase of the market expansion and diversification work identified that diversification of trade of 50 percent of Australia’s wool production could deliver up to $1.1 billion in trade risk mitigation, add $1.8 billion to Australia’s GDP and create an additional 582 Australian jobs by 2050. A second phase of work delivered practical roadmaps for priority trading partner countries identified for wool market expansion, being India, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

“(Yesterday) when questioned about the phaseout of live exports in the Senate, Minister Watt was quoted as saying “What we’re about in the country, in this government, is actually about more value-adding and delivering more jobs in agriculture, in manufacturing and in every other industry.”

“Clearly, talk is cheap and the minister’s comments seem disingenuous to put it politely,” Ms Hall said.

“How can a government ignore a program proposal with potential to deliver up to $1.1 billion in trade risk mitigation, and an additional $1.8 billion in GDP and 582 jobs?”

WoolProducers said the outcomes of the market expansion and diversification program would have been consistent with a number of existing government programs including the Agri-Business Expansion Initiative and the Export Market Development Grants. Along with support objectives under trade agreements including the Australia-Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy (EEES), Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 and the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA).

“This was an opportunity for the government to show that there was some genuine interest in working with industry to try work on the blow that they have delivered to the national industry, the fact that they have failed to deliver on this casts further questions over their ability to keep a sustainable wool industry in Australia,” Ms Hall said.

“It’s disappointing, but increasingly not unexpected, that the biggest single commitment of new money for agriculture in this budget is the $107 million committed over the next four years to kill off live sheep exports, and we don’t even know


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  1. Dr. Kukovics Sandor, May 15, 2024

    I obtained my third degree in Australia (University of New Endland, Armidale, NSW) (admittedly, many years ago), but I am still involved in the sheep sector – even after 45 years of research and development.
    Wool and sheep / lamb, as well as genetics, are still my main areas of interest today. That is why I am interested in your announcements.

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