Letter from the Chair

Letter from the Chair

July 01 2024

Dr Scott Williams TI.jpg

The Steering Group Chair, Dr Scott Williams.

In March, we hosted the annual Sheep Sustainability Framework (SSF) Industry Forum in Sydney. We tried a slightly different approach to this year’s forum, with the inclusion of focus sessions on two priority areas of the Framework: pain relief and carbon. These discussions were really quite interesting.

The group talked about how the Framework is being used to inform industry policy, advocacy, and research, development and extension (RD&E), and what we need to do to make the Framework better serve these purposes.

We realised, for example, that our carbon-related metrics are largely lagging, and that we would benefit from more leading indicators to show how industry is moving towards lower emissions.

The Steering Group has been working to address some gaps in our suite of metrics. We have also been tweaking some metrics to align them with those of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework. We are very conscious that producers rarely run just one enterprise on their property, and it’s important that we don’t end up with multiple different indicators of sustainability on farms depending on their enterprise mix.

I attended the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) Congress in Adelaide in April (see the of Newes & Wether). As you will read, the discussions at the congress really brought home the growing importance of sustainability reporting, and of carbon emissions.

Two platforms were launched at IWTO. The Australian Wool Traceability Hub will facilitate the tracing of wool and, ultimately, the transmission down the chain of data relating to sustainability – such as carbon reduction initiatives. The other was the Australian Wool Sustainability Scheme, a wool integrity program that includes the revamped SustainaWOOL certification. Mechanisms such as these are becoming critical for value chains wishing to maintain access to premium markets.

In August, we will launch the 2024 Sheep Sustainability Framework Annual Report at LambEx, also in Adelaide. MLA will be hosting a trade stand, and we hope to speak to as many lamb producers as possible during the conference.

We recently welcomed Maria Crawford from Coles to the Steering Group. Maria will provide our food retailer perspective, which is so important for the sheepmeat side of the Framework. We are also currently recruiting for someone from wool processing or retail. Unfortunately, Julian Collins of ABMT Textiles has had to step down because of growing work commitments. I thank Julian for his contributions, which were invaluable, and I hope we can find someone of similar knowledge and experience to fill his role. See the expressions of interest for more information.