PEAK grower body WoolProducers Australia has cautioned against industry reliance on commercial wool traceability schemes for effective management of an exotic sheep disease outbreak.
The peak body is finalising a report into an effective traceability system for Australia wool and sheep to meet market and exotic disease management needs.
WoolProducers was awarded a grant under the Commonwealth Traceability Grants Program in 2020, to identify and make recommendations on an ideal traceability system for wool.
The body expects to release its final ‘Traceability in the Australian Wool and Sheep Industry’ project by the end of the year.
After reviewing existing domestic and international systems, coupled with extensive consultation across the supply chain through one-on-one interviews and two industry workshops, four key elements of an effective traceability system in the wool industry have been identified by the project.
WoolProducers general manager, Adam Dawes, said through an extensive consultation WPA has identified that in order to achieve effective industry wide traceability for a bulk commodity, such as wool, four key elements are required:
identification of the source;
identification of the product;
a mechanism to record movement of the product, and;
“These elements were recently presented at two online workshops, involving domestic supply chain members and industry service providers who universally supported the concept,” Mr Dawes said.
The project considered the two main drivers for improving wool traceability, those being biosecurity and provenance.
“With increasing awareness of the threat of an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) outbreak in Australia, and the increasing importance of provenance and supply chain transparency for consumers, the project aims to facilitate improvements in the current wool industry traceability system and incorporate interoperability with other relevant systems (such as livestock traceability) while seeking to enhance the international competitiveness of Australian wool,” Mr Dawes said.
“To be competitive, sustainable and resilient, the Australian wool industry requires a best practice, integrated, reliable and effective industry wide traceability system.”
“There are many quality assurance systems and other mechanisms currently in the marketplace that claim to provide traceability for wool; however, these commercially-focused systems will not provide any assistance in the event of an EAD incursion, and anyone who believes or promotes such messaging is ignorant to the realities of what would happen in an EAD outbreak,” Mr Dawes said.
Mr Dawes said WoolProducers is very keen to finalise the recommendations, which will provide the foundations of a future traceability system that addresses both of these key drivers.
“There were no predetermined outcomes in mind at any time during the project.
“What we want to achieve from this project is a set of recommendations on how we can deliver a fit-for-purpose traceability system for the wool industry.”
WoolProducers said it is proud to have shown leadership in the traceability area to achieve industry good outcomes and it thanked the Federal Government and the supply chain partners that have participated in the consultations.
Participants in the consultation process included brokers, exporters, service providers and individual companies.