Pitch for superfine revolution

19 Feb, 2015 10:15 AM
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Australian Wool Network wool specialist Brett Cox, Kings Meadows, Tasmania, with superfine grower Simon Cameron,
SustainaWOOL may just be the initiative that helps us turn the corner
Australian Wool Network wool specialist Brett Cox, Kings Meadows, Tasmania, with superfine grower Simon Cameron, "Kingston", Campbelltown, Tasmania.

THE first SustainaWOOL accredited clips hit the auction room last week and New England Wool is now calling for more superfine growers to get on board.

The New England Wool SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme was launched earlier this month, designed to promote wool production that is sustainable for both the animal and the environment.

New England Wool, the world's largest purchaser of the highest quality 'spinner' style supefine wool, represents two high profile fabric makers - Reda and Vitale Barberis Canonico in Biella, Italy.

"New England Wool, in conjunction with its Italian shareholders, wants the wool consuming world to understand that its wool producers take the utmost care with their animals and the environment," New England wool managing director, Andrew Blanch said.

"Not enough focus or energy has been placed on promoting the sustainable nature of the wool production system in Australia - particularly high quality superfine wool production systems," Mr Blanch said.

"SustainaWOOL provides professional woolgrowers the opportunity to show the world just how well they look after their stock and the environment."

Mr Blanch said sustainable wool production, including the highest levels of animal welfare, was more than a trend, but was fast becoming a necessity to satisfy the discerning consumer.

Getting the message to wool industry

Superfine woolgrower Simon Cameron, "Kingston", Campbelltown, Tasmania, sold 60 SustainaWOOL accredited bales at the Melbourne sale last week.

Mr Cameron welcomed the SustainaWOOL initiative as it supported his on-farm sustainability practices and the message he wanted promoted to buyers, but found was impossible to deliver as an individual grower.

"The information I provide under SustainaWOOL is not just about the wool we sell, but our whole farming system, from how the sheep that wool grows on are cared for and the land on which they run is managed," he said.

Mr Cameron said to date there had only been increased costs for improving on-farm practices and providing traceability.

"SustainaWOOL may just be the initiative that helps us turn the corner by raising the profile of wool that is produced on farms like mine," he said.

"Hopefully this will improve the price that buyers are prepared to pay for the extra effort that some woolgrowers go to."

Mr Cameron's 5500-head flock averaged just over 16-micron and two of the bales he offered last week were of 1PP standard.

They were secured by Reda for their 150PP Project, which aims to secure 150 bales of 1PP certified superfine wool by 2015, also the year which marks 150 years since Reda was founded.

Fellow Tasmanian woolgrowers Jack Cotton an his daughter Anna, "Kelvedon", Swansea, sold 63 bales from their wether flock at the Melbourne auction last Tuesday that were SustainaWOOL accredited.

Keeping growers in the game

Mr Cotton, a fifth-generation woolgrower, said the SustainaWOOL scheme was necessary for the superfine industry to keep growers in the game.

"There certainly won't be many people left in superfine wool if prices don't lift, we have already had a mass exodus in Tasmania to prime lamb production," he said.

The Cotton family runs a flock of 8500 superfine Merinos on native pastures.

"The buyers of superfine wool want a sense of place for their products and by being SustainaWOOL accredited we are able to show we are sustainable and ethical growers to meet their requirements."

The SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme is available to all suppliers (existing or new) to New England Wool.

The information provided via the SustainaWOOL documentation by each wool supplier will be forever linked with the wool produced from that particular property.

The SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme Grower Checklist was a self-assessment document, however, each declarant signs with the full understanding and knowledge they can be subject to audit at any time by a registered audit company or authorised entity.

The SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme works hand-in-hand with the Australian Wool Exchange National Wool Declaration (NWD).

For further information on SustainaWOOL visit the New England Wool website.

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FarmOnline

Cara Jeffery

is the national sheep and wool writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first

READER COMMENTS

Glen Bower
22/02/2015 11:07:52 AM

I hope for the sake of those who have stuck with the superfine wools it turns around big time. Personally I can't see it turning around and staying there to be sustainable for any length of time. Sad because I have not seen the passion the superfine growers show from growing a great product in any other industry.

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this "dangerous" scarcity of mutton occurs every season because any ewe that is still in a
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Review the ESCAS by all means; then scrap it. The rest of it is simply nonsense aimed to get
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Fiona Nash was interviewed and asked about lack of funding for this after the budget. Said govt