Coronavirus: Wool says it must be declared an essential industry

Wool argues its case to be declared an essential industry under coronavirus

SHEARS MUST KEEP CLICKING: WoolProducers Australia says the wool industry must be declared an essential industry under the new coronavirus business rules.

SHEARS MUST KEEP CLICKING: WoolProducers Australia says the wool industry must be declared an essential industry under the new coronavirus business rules.


WoolProducers Australia is mounting a case for the wool industry to be declared an essential service to avoid new coronavirus business shutdowns.


Key participants along the supply and marketing chain have written to federal and state political leaders urging them to declare wool an essential industry.

The industry fears key services such as shearing and wool auctions will grind to a halt if wool isn't declared an essential business under sweeping new coronavirus control measures.

The industry generates $3.82 billion in annual export income an employs around 200,000 Australians.

President of WoolProducers Australia, Ed Storey, said it was critical for both animal welfare and economic reasons for shearing to continue.

Shearing played an important role in both the wool and sheepmeat sectors, he said.

For example, if shearing stopped a lot of ewes would be lambing carrying 12 months or more wool which would cause the loss of both ewes and lambs.

Shearing lambs before they went into feedlots was also common while income of around $50 million from weekly wool sales was critical for the ongoing financing of sheep businesses.

The wool sector was also keen for the government to understand the transport of wool was low-risk and its continuation would help bring confidence to the wool trade.

Mr Storey said steps had also been taken to mitigate risks for people attending wool auctions along with those working in wool testing and handling including extra cleaning and extra room for social distancing.

Among the targets for the letter are the federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and State Premiers.

The organisations behind the push are WoolProducers Australia, Sheep Producers Australia, AWTA Ltd, AWEX, Australian Wool Handlers, the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia and Wool Industries Australia.

Meanwhile, a working group of AWEX's National Auction Wool Selling Committee is meeting daily at 8am to discuss developments in the Covid-19 crisis as it affects Australian wool auctions.

NASC has implemented recommendations from the working group in risk mitigation including the location of sale rooms, personal and equipment hygiene, social distancing and restricting access to essential personnel from brokers, buyers and support staff.

Specifically these include relocation of the Melbourne sale rooms to the show floor (an open area in the warehouse) and dining room which will be used for this week's auctions.

Fremantle's sale room has also moved onto the show floor this week while sale rooms in Sydney may be moved to the show floor next week.

The working group has also developed contingency options where a sale room or centre is subject to self-isolation conditions.


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