SHEEP CRC boss James Rowe has urged woolgrowers to ask questions about Australian Wool Innovation’s (AWI) genetics project currently in planning, particularly if the entire project ends up being funded solely by wool levies with no other industry money.
He said growers needed to understand that running long-term genetic projects was very expensive.
“You have to be very clear on what the program will deliver in terms of economic benefits,” he said.
Professor Rowe said there were huge costs involved with coordinating sheep management, data collection and storage, analysis and establishing protocols for how certain tasks, such as sheep slaughter, would be undertaken.
Competent people with expertise from parasite management through to sheep reproduction were needed who would be with the project for the long haul.
He said for the project AWI had outlined – including two years of a base flock and five joinings – spanning seven years, the costs would be significant.
“Wool producers need to look at if you are going into a project like that and funding it as a single organisation, it’s wool levies covering the lot,” he said.
For the Information Nucleus Flock over seven years, the cost was $15 million, plus $9m for a related meat research project.
About 40 per cent of that $24m cost was funded by other research and development corporations.
The INF project was much cheaper because it had been designed well by its project team.
“You really need to think through what are the dollar benefits and the economic impact because they are long, expensive projects,” he said.
“Not enough work is being done on how some of those questions (to be addressed in the AWI project) could be answered by working with Meat & Livestock Australia on its resource flock program.
“It sounds easy until you come to do it and you have to do it well because of the huge investment.
“But the thing I am positive about is it has generated a bit of discussion about genetics and that it is important.”