Proposed wool declaration changes binned

Bob GarnantCountryman
The National Wool Declaration form, supplied by AWEX, will adopt five industry recommendations to avoid confusion to woolgrowers.
Camera IconThe National Wool Declaration form, supplied by AWEX, will adopt five industry recommendations to avoid confusion to woolgrowers. Credit: Bob Garnant/The West Australian, Bob Garnant

Peak woolgrower representative body WoolProducers Australia has welcomed a no-change to the mulesing status on the National Wool Declaration, advocating this would avoid confusion to woolgrowers and the supply chain.

Woolgrowers use the NWD as a declaration to inform exporters, processors and retailers about the mulesing status of their clip at time of sale, including dark and medullated fibre risk.

The Australian Wool Exchange began a controversial review of the NWD in May, 2019, introducing two new categories for non-mulesed wool.

But, AWEX has abandoned its changes to the NWD and has accepted the recommendations from the Industry Services Advisory Committee regarding the review.

These five recommendations included the definition of mulesing to remain unchanged and the definition of non-mulesed to remain unchanged.

AWEX would also reformat ceased mulesing on the NWD form to include two questions to improve clarity and reduce errors, while the CM (ceased mulesed) would remain unchanged.

The form’s NWD mulesing status code PR (mulesed with pain relief) would be replaced with AA (analgesic or anaesthetic) and where an Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority registered AA product had been used.

With respect to liquid nitrogen, AWEX is seeking futher information from joint venture partnership AgVet Innovation on the animal welfare trials being undertaken, before an informed decision would be made.

WoolProducers chief executive Jo Hall said the group welcomed the “common sense approach from AWEX”.

“WoolProducers provided written submissions into the various phases of the review process, strongly rejecting any change to the definition of mulesing and non-mulesing categories and calling for a delay in making any decision until all of the information was known,” she said.

AWEX also announced that a review would be held within 12 months or when the results of the scheduled pain assessment trials of Sheep Freeze Branding were released.

“For any organisation to make a decision at this point in time to change the non-mulesing definition, would not only have been premature but also reckless as there simply was not enough information available to make an informed decision,” Ms Hall said.

“The current usage rates for SFB are very low and therefore the volume of SFB wool that may be declared through the NWD would be immaterial.”

Ms Hall said if the SFB pain assessment trials demonstrated an unreasonable level of pain was caused from that procedure, it would be very unlikely that there would be an uptake of SFB and therefore the confusion within the trade from an amended NWD would be for no reason.

“There is a long standing and accepted definition of mulesing in Australia, and we had always maintained that if another procedure does not meet this definition then it should simply be defined as non-mulesed,” she said.

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