Kojonup farmer joins sheep and wool committee

Zach RelphCountryman
Kojonup farmer Emily Stretch is part of the new Sheep Sustainability Steering Group.
Camera IconKojonup farmer Emily Stretch is part of the new Sheep Sustainability Steering Group. Credit: DPIRD

Great Southern farmer Emily Stretch has been appointed to a nine-member steering committee to design what is being hailed the world’s first national sustainability framework for sheep and wool.

Ms Stretch is the only WA representative in the Sheep Sustainability Steering Group, which will be chaired by Charles Sturt University researcher Professor Bruce Allworth.

The group, which consulted for the first time this week, will spearhead the bid to advance the sheep sector’s sustainability framework, similar to that which the red meat industry implemented in 2017.

The framework is scheduled to be delivered by June.

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Professor Allworth said introducing the initiative, led by Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia, would underpin international markets’ confidence in Australia’s sheep trade.

“Our customers must be confident that the food and fibre they purchase has been produced responsibly,” Professor Allworth said.

“This means being transparent about our performance in key areas of interest such as animal welfare, occupational health and safety, environmental impact and economic resilience.

“It aims to celebrate our strengths, those areas of production where we are best practice, and identify areas where improvements can be made.”

Gundagai Meat Processors chief executive Will Barton and New England Wool boss Andrew Blanch, both of New South Wales, are part of the group alongside Tasmanian sheep producer Will Bignell.

It also includes Jugiong-based farmer Michael Field, of New South Wales, Johnny Gardner and Mark Wootton, both Victorian sheep producers, and Ag Communicators managing director Deanna Lush.

Professor Allworth said steering group members had a strong representation across the wool and sheepmeat value chain.

“It will enable industry to better understand its opportunities, challenges and impacts, to define sustainable sheep production and track annual performance using a series of indicators,” he said.

“If we can measure our performance and provide solid data, we can demonstrate that our farming practices are in line with the expectations of our customers, and build their trust.”

The steering group’s discussions this week focused on priority issues to be included in the framework.

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