INITIAL submissions to Australian Wool Innovation’s (AWI) Wool Selling Systems Review (WSSR) will close next week with woolgrowers, classers and industry bodies already voicing their concerns.
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WSSR executive officer and secretariat, John Roberts said the panel had received a lot of feedback on the WSSR issues paper released in December as it gave people an appreciation for the length of the wool industry chain.

So far, submissions have highlighted calls for a move away from showroom auctions to more online wool sales.

One submission, from Andrew and Jim Farran, “Yiddinga”, Edenhope, Victoria, suggested eliminating the “rostrum” centered auction room wherein “the auctioneer calls the shots” and instead, with well supervised “sale by description” methods, an on-line, digitalised screen system.

This would eliminate the need for multiple, physically-based auction centres and the personal attendance of brokers and buyers at the one place at the same time.

New England woolgrower, David Abbott, Armidale, said wool needed to be sold direct from the woolshed to the topmaker.

“Payment needs to be made by the topmaker directly to the producer,” he said.

“From my experience this will save a minimum of five to 10 per cent of costs.”

East Gippsland woolgrower, John Buxton, Vic, recognised wool was no longer a mass market commodity.

“Yet we are using a selling system that was designed for an age long ago when wool was a mass market essential commodity,” Mr Buxton said.

He said under the current wool selling system there was no information as to what happened to his wool once it was sold.

“With our wool we have no contact with real customers,” he said.

“The only other contact we have in the supply chain is the wool broker representative.”

According to Bathurst woolgrower, Don Pratley, “Oakbrook”, the bureaucratic overkill and red tape imposed on the industry, and in particular woolclassers by the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX), needed to be eliminated.

“Excessive, time-consuming bale branding needs scrapping,” he said.

“A full Merino clip is just that, you don’t need to waste time branding each bale.”

Independent Commodity Services principal, Andrew Woods, Wagga Wagga, said a change that should be considered was the development of unskirted fleeces.

“Unskirted fleece for both Merino and crossbred wool offers improved efficiencies within wool sheds and lowered costs,” he said.

However, he noted issues with identification and preparation of unskirted fleeces.

“At present any unskirted fleece is categorised as non-conforming and given a “D” certificate, which includes wool with lots that come from a single source, on farm and are not prepared to the minimum standards of the AWEX Code of Practice (COP) or without a registered wool classer,” he said.

“There is no formal identification of well prepared unskirted fleece wool in the supply chain.”

Mr Woods also said the AWEX COP needed to be adjusted to include unskirted preparation, specifying the presence of a wool classer as mandatory, to maintain quality control in the wool room.

“Wool brokers, AWEX and exporters are rightly worried that an acceptance of unskirted wool, without formal guidelines, would lead to a lowering of wool preparation standards,” he said.

“That is why this form of preparation needs to be included in the AWEX COP with the role of the wool classer explicitly stated as key to its success.”

The Australian Wool Test Authority (AWTA) supplied an extensive submission to the panel in response to WSSR review panel issues paper and stated while AWTA does not compete with AWEX, they remained open to discussing means of reducing industry costs by a merger between the two organisations.

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