ROGER Fletcher’s call for a united sheepmeat and wool promotion body will be up for discussion when the peak advocacy groups that represent those industries meet in Canberra on Monday.

The Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) and WoolProducers Australia (WPA) will hold their Animal Health and Welfare meeting, where Australia’s most prominent sheepmeat processor Roger Fletcher’s idea for the sheepmeat sector to quit Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and team up with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) will be debated.

SCA president Jeff Murray, Western Australia, said while collaboration between MLA and AWI would be useful, there were quite a few differences between the way AWI and WPA currently do business, and the relationship between MLA and SCA.

“Under the current model, by legislation SCA have to tick off on the MLA budget, where currently WPA don’t have that under the AWI charter, which seems to be quite different to how we operate,” Mr Murray said.

“AWI have the final say on the marketing spend regardless of whether WPA support it, and WPA are the producers’ representative.

“Whereas SCA have been able to work very closely with MLA to achieve some really good results.”

Good outcomes for meat producersMr Murray said SCA already worked closely with WPA to achieve better outcomes for the sheep industry.

“But we also also need to work very closely with the other parts of the red meat industry that are tied to MLA, to get good outcomes for all red meat producers.”

Mr Murray said there hadn’t been many complaints from the prime lamb and sheepmeat industry levy payers for the work MLA and SCA had done as the business has grown successfully over the last 15 years.

“The worldwide demand for lamb is so great at present and our markets so diverse due to the good work MLA have done. We are not tied to China as the wool industry is.

“However, the price of wool is almost hovering around where it was 20 years ago when the floor price was dropped and they said then that was at the cost of production, well it’s still there.”

Mr Murray said current wool prices were driving people out of the sheep industry.

“If we could get a good result on the wool side of things, I am sure we would have more people sticking with the sheep industry,” he said.

Consultation essential: HallidayWoolProducers Australia president Richard Halliday, South Australia, said there needed to be thorough industry consultation before an amalgamation of AWI and the lamb and sheepmeat sector of MLA could be considered.

“We are talking a fibre and a food so there would need to very thorough consultation within industry to see whether it could work,” he said.

Mr Halliday said both sheepmeat and wool were at a point where they both returned about the same gross domestic production for Australia.

“You just wouldn’t one to get lost on the merger of the organisations,” he said.

He said a merger between the sectors – sheepmeat and wool – would be a bit like a first date.

“Let’s develop a relationship and see how well it can work, and go from there.”

For now, Mr Halliday said WPA was focused on establishing one advocacy group to be the voice of the wool industry.

Hence, WPA had invited Australian Wool Growers Association (AWGA), Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders (AASMB), and the Australian Superfine Wool Growers’ Association (ASWGA) to meet in Canberra on Monday.

“Our first step is to get the wool industry all around the table at the one time. For the wool industry to achieve anything we need to brings all woolgrowers groups together,” Mr Halliday said.

“This is groundbreaking for the wool industry, I can’t recall having all those groups around the table before.”

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