Wool Broker Makes National Wool Declaration A Condition Of Sale
An Australian wool broking company managed by a board member of Australian Wool Innovation will no longer offer growers’ clips for sale without a National Wool Declaration (NWD).
The NWD provides buyers and downstream users with information, signed by the producer, about the mulesing status of wool along with details about any risk of medullated and dark fibre contamination and on-farm chemical use.
Don Macdonald, managing director of Dubbo-based Macdonald & Co. and an AWI board director since 2017, said the decision to make a NWD a condition of sale wasn’t linked to any opinion about mulesing but a step towards achieving full traceability of wool along the pipeline.
He wants other brokers to adopt the same policy but is opposed to the “big stick” option of making NWDs compulsory for growers. “Nationally only around 70% of the clip is NWD compliant but we think the advantages for Australian wool are obvious and we urge other wool brokers to pick up the baton and work toward full industry compliance,” Macdonald said.
“I believe traceability is becoming more and more important,” he said.
“I am on the board of AWI and the feedback we are constantly getting from downstream customers, whether they are early-stage processors or whether they are retailers, is the pipeline is looking for full traceability and the only way we can get start that ball rollling is by having a completed NWD,” he said.
He said his company had been talking to its 700 clients about the move for the past few months and the response overall had been positive. He said about 90% of the company’s grower clients were now submitting mob-based NWDs and blamed a lack of communications with classers for many of those who weren’t.
Mr Macdonald said the future of mulesing would ultimately be decided by market forces. “While there has been a push on (to ban mulesing) by activists for over 15 years, there has not been a lot of strong market signals shown until more recently,” her said.
“Yes, there are market signals now and growers in all sorts of geographic and flock type situations will make their decisions (on mulesing) based on what’s best for them. I don’t think one size fits all, there will be people who decide they want to continue mulesing because it fits their situation better and I can say from experience if you have sheep in big pastoral areas and big acreages mulesing is still an important management tool. Growers will not just weigh up the premiums and discounts on wool, they will weigh up premiums and discounts on the sale of surplus sheep.”
Mr Macdonald is also a woolgrower with properties at Molong and Brewarrina in NSW with total sheep numbers (core young breeding ewes) down to around 8000 because of drought. Tim Marwedel, managing director of major wool buyer and processor, G.Schneider Australia, welcomed the decision on NWDs
“Our company applauds the initiative taken by Macdonald & Co in assuring our company and our customers that the first step in a fully traceable and transparent wool pipeline is complete. We urge other wool brokers to follow this lead and progress the Australian wool clip towards 100pc NWD compliance.”
Also praising the move was Australian Wool Exchange CEO, Mark Grave, who said since 2008 the NWD had provided the Australian wool industry with a traceable document that provided valuable information for wool customers.