More than fifty wool industry leaders met online on Thursday 30 April to chart Australian woolgrowers’ 10-year strategic plan.
Organised by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the meeting of the Woolgrower Consultation Group (WCG) which will be the principal oversight body for delivering ‘Wool 2030 – A strategic plan for Australian woolgrowers’, included 21 ‘Next Gen’ representatives from across Australia who have been identified as future leaders by WCG members.
The meeting welcomed the Next Gen representatives to the WCG, introduced overarching questions for consideration and recapped on the background, purpose, scope and process for delivery of the strategy.
In 2019, AWI revitalised the way it consults with Australian woolgrowers. The result was a two-tiered approach, including a nationally representative group known as AWI’s Woolgrower Consultation Group, or WCG.
The WCG is a broad-based group comprising 29 representatives of national, state and regional production-based woolgrower and broadacre farming groups. The WCG also includes members of the Woolgrower Industry Consultation Panel (WICP) which is a smaller body made up of seven national woolgrower representative organisations, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, AWI and an independent chair.
The impetus for the strategy came out of AWI’s regular three-year independent Review of Performance, where a recommendation from the latest review was to ‘Develop a ten-year wool strategy…with broad consultation across the industry’.
Tom Kirk from the Commercial Merino Ewe Competitions Association said it was great to see so many groups with an interest in wool, including the Next Generation members of the WCG working together so growers can have a bright future.
“The WCG is closely aligned with AWI in not being there to pick favourites – whether you are mules or non-mules, whether you breed with ASBV’s or visual selection – we’re all part of the one industry and shareholders in the one company. Broad industry input and vision is welcomed into the planning process,” he said.
NSW Stud Merino Breeders Association president Drew Chapman commented recently that this is an initiative where all of the various representative groups from around the country have the opportunity to put forward their ambitions for the wool industry.
“One of the suggestions coming out of those discussions about the ten-year plan is that not many of us are going to be as active in the industry in ten years. So we need to engage with more young people and get them actively involved.”
At 22, full time stock and station agent and commercial Merino breeder Emma Northey, from Central NSW is one of the future wool industry leaders involved in developing the plan.
“My ambition is to ensure the industry can efficiently adapt and evolve whilst remaining sustainable for our future generations.”
Anthony Close from Harrow in Western Victoria is a 5th generation sheep and cattle farmer and is also happy to be involved as a Next Gen representative.
“The world is shaped by people who turn up and are happy to put their hand up; so very humble and excited to be given the opportunity to help shape the future of wool in Australia.”
AWI CEO Stuart McCullough says the whole purpose of the plan is to keep wool profitable and sustainable.
“AWI is proud to listen to and work with representatives across the length and breadth of the wool industry.
“It is enormously important to tap into the ideas and passion of ‘Next Gen’ growers who will be our industry’s leaders and champions for years to come.
“Attracting and mentoring young people to the industry is a priority, and the WCG forum provides an opportunity for that.”
The inaugural WCG meeting was held in Sydney in November 2019 where nine key areas were discussed:
- Animal welfare/biosecurity
- Feral pests
- Pastures, farming systems and drought
- Shearer/wool handler training
- Market intelligence/traceability
- Grower engagement
The outcomes from this meeting will contribute to the development of a series of five discussion papers to be provided to WCG members for debate and feedback in order to draft ‘Wool 2030 – A strategic plan for Australian woolgrowers’. Further consultation will also occur via a variety of methods, including phone interviews, an online survey, consultation with regional networks and a purpose-built website, with delivery of the strategy expected in late 2020.