Peak woolgrower representative body, WoolProducers Australia has rejected the new mulesing status categories proposed by AWEX through the extended National Wool Declaration (NWD) Review.
AWEX are conducting a consultation on Identification of Alternative Methods to Mulesing through the NWD and are seeking feedback on two new mulesing status categories:
NM1: No sheep in this mob has been mulesed, and an alternative* method to mulesing has not been used.
NM2: No sheep in this mob has been mulesed, and an alternative* method to mulesing has been used.
WoolProducers CEO, Ms Jo Hall said ‘WoolProducers have provided a written submission into this process strongly rejecting the proposed NM1 and NM2 categories.’
‘We are concerned that the addition of these categories will cause immense confusion amongst not only growers, but also along the supply chain’. Ms Hall said.
The current mulesing definition is the removal of skin from the breech and/or tail of a sheep using mulesing shears.
The emergence of Sheep Freeze Branding (SFB) is being touted as a potential alternative to mulesing but is currently going through independent pain assessment trials, which are yet to be finalised.
Ms Hall said, ‘There is a long standing and accepted definition of mulesing in Australia, and we believe that if another procedure does not meet this definition then it should simply be defined as non-mulesed.’
‘WoolProducers are asking that there is no change to the non-mulesing status on the NWD until at least the pain assessment trials on SFB are completed’. Ms Hall said.
Australian growers and government, through Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) have invested tens of millions of dollars looking into alternatives for mulesing under the premise that these alternatives would be acceptable.
‘Any change to this approach would be a shifting of the goal posts for our industry that will essentially mean millions of dollars have been wasted’.
‘WoolProducers are keen to listen to our customers in the supply chain but are not interested in the views of activists groups whose aim is to shut down livestock production,” Ms Hall said.
WoolProducers also have concerns that if there is adoption of split definitions of non-mulesed, which is essentially including any form of breech modification that this could potentially lead to other husbandry procedures, such as tail docking, as being included in this in definition.
‘The current mulesing definition refers to the ‘breech and/or tail’, if there is a concession on procedures that don’t use mulesing shears as having to be declared, there can be no guarantee that.”