Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Opinion
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I am writing in response to an article published in last weeks Stock & Land in the "As I see it" column in which the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) livestock president Mr Leonard Vallance made a number of insinuations that are unfortunately ill informed and incorrect, and which must be addressed. 

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The column shows a lack of understanding of Australian Wool Innovation’s (AWI) charter. Mr Vallance suggests that AWI might re-connect with grassroots issues if they moved from Sydney to a "tin shed" in Dubbo. He goes on to mention four examples.

Three of these AWI have been very aware of and have participated in, with varying degrees of input and funding.

The fourth, AWI would never invest levy payers funds in. And never  should. Making sheep smaller!!

The other three are –

1. Drugs and alcohol in the shearing industry.

Drug and alcohol problems are an issue in many workplaces throughout the country and in fact throughout society in general. In no way is it confined to the shearing industry. AWI, in consultation with Wool Producers and The Australian Workers Union, are very much aware of this issue.

It is an issue that cannot be ignored. However it is an OH&S, and welfare issue.

It falls well outside AWI's charter of research, development and marketing.

Some shearing contractors run drug and alcohol free teams and this should be commended.

All employers have the right to employ drug and alcohol free staff.

We all understand the difficulty in confronting staff with these problems and (or) asking them to take a drug or alcohol test at the workplace.

However, none of these issues fall within AWI's charter.

"Wool Producers" , unions and government have a roll to play here.

2. Lack of Technology uptake.   

I'm not sure which technology is not being taken up that would advance the industry, however it is AWI's job to research and develop improved technology with for the industry, not force the industry to use it.

Producers use breeding technology's that they think best suits their aims. This is the free market system at work.

3. Mulesing 

Not sure where to start here, but to suggest that AWI doesn't understand grassroots sentiment is incorrect.

AWI is leaving no stone unturned in its attempt to find a suitable alternative to mulesing and in fact has spent well over $50 million in recent years attempting to find a suitable replacement.

This work and funding is ongoing. Until this replacement is found, mulesing with analgesia is the true animal health and welfare policy for the majority of the industry to take.

Finally, on the topic of who should be the peak body to oversee (choose the direction of expenditure) of woolgrowers levies.

Mr Vallance stated that the VFF Livestock Council voted unanimously that this power be given to Wool Producers.

As it now stands, every woolgrower in Australia has the opportunity to vote for the directors on the AWI board.

This is democracy.

They can vote each director on the board, in or out, every three years.

Any person can stand for the board.

If "Wool Producers" dictates AWI expenditure, basically the current AWI board has no purpose.

It becomes redundant.

Power would be transferred to state farming organisations.

All woolgrowers of Australia would no longer have a say in where their levy's are spent.

Only the members of "Wool Producers" would say where our levies are spent and these members are elected by state organisations, of which some in those organisations may not even be woolgrowers.

*Michael Collins, Mt Burte, Linton

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