The Western Australian wool industry is experiencing some exciting and interesting times ahead of the upcoming season.
WAFarmers Livestock Council Junior Vice President Steve McGuire said there was much currently happening within the industry, but that the general state of play was mixed.
“There are positive prices across the board for WA wool, and it has recently reached the height of the market experienced in 2011,” he said.
“Most of the recent increases have been at the finer end of the market, to see more traditional spread of values across the micron range.
“It’s good to see fine wool merino breeders finally getting better returns for their wool.
“The season kicked off with good, solid wool prices, with the sales in Fremantle around the 1,500 cent per kilo mark.”
In October 2016, WAFarmers challenged WA based meat processors to explain why there was a constant price disparity paid in the west for mutton, lamb and skins as compared to the prices paid in the east for the same products.
“It is concerning to see large volumes of sheep moving east because of the better prices being paid, even though there are no quality differences between lambs produced in the west to the east,” Mr McGuire said.
“WAFarmers, MLA and SCA are working together to investigate why there is such a price disparity and we hope to ascertain some solid fact on this soon.
“The attraction and retention of people in the sheep industry is difficult enough without such discrepancies in product price, particularly as the sheep flock continues to decline.
“Generally speaking, the working age of shearers and sheep producers is rising, but this is no different from any other agricultural industry.
“The downturn in mining presents great opportunities for the agricultural industry, as young people who might normally have been working up north are now back home and looking for work.
“WAFarmers works really hard to encourage young people to work in agriculture or stay in the industry, if that’s what they’ve grown up in, so we would be thrilled to see some of these workers join the shearing trade.”
Mr McGuire said recent reports from around the state about decreased rabbit populations were not as critical an issue as wild dog controls.
“Greater work is needed on wild dog controls, and WAFarmers looks forward to working with the DAFWA to roll out the WA Wild Dog Action plan over the next three to five years,” he said.
“The agricultural industry, and livestock in particular, is the next boom industry for WA and we look forward to working with the new government to really take the sector forward.”
For more information about what the WAFarmers Livestock Section has been up to in the past year, buy tickets to the WAFarmers Annual Conference: GROW2017. The Livestock Section AGM is on Thursday 2 March.