Outcomes from the review of the National Wool Declaration have come under fire by customers of Australian wool who believe it may negatively affect how all customers view the Australian market.
Last month the Australian Wool Exchange board unanimously accepted the recommendations by the Industry Services Advisory Committee to leave the definitions of mulesed and non-mulesed unchanged.
As a result any animal whose breech had been adjusted using sheep freeze branding technology or liquid nitrogen would be classed as non-mulesed.
The AWEX recognised the consequences associated with making a decision before scientific analysis had been completed and will review their stance in 12 months or when results from a Melbourne University pain-assessment trial become available.
New England Wool and its Italian shareholders, Reda and Vitale Barberis Canonico (VBC), released a statement on Wednesday stating it was concerned for the ramifications of the decisions on the Australian wool industry.
VBC chief executive officer Alessandro Barberis Canonico said there was a very real global perception by customers, brands and consumers that non-mulesing meant no manipulation of the breech
"Allowing all alternative methods to mulesing into the NM/CM bracket causes us the most concern," he said.
"In some way we (VBC) become co-guilty if we cannot clearly understand what we are purchasing and including in our fabrics. You could say that AWEX have moved the issue into our hands.
"It is a huge shame that this perfect opportunity for the Australian Wool Industry to seriously promote unequivocal transparency has been lost."
Reda chief operating officer Francesco Botto Poala said the most important outcomes should have been transparency, integrity and traceability.
"These three pillars, if strong and constantly maintained, will allow brands and consumers to make informed decisions, and give them complete faith in the supply chain from which they purchase their goods," he said.
"Australia cannot afford to jeopardise these credentials. There seems to be an element of inaction in these outcomes on what could have been a wonderful opportunity for the Australian Wool Industry to show leadership and forward thinking."
He referenced an AWEX document on the NWD review that spoke of the significant number of submissions from overseas and downstream stakeholders.
"The decision should be taken looking to the final consumer," he said.
"The outcomes, or may I suggest, lack of outcomes make me feel that the views of the customers of Australian wool were largely overlooked."
New England Wool Pty Ltd managing director Andrew Blanch said their company would now focus on safeguarding the integrity of their own shareholders.
"We will be seeking the complete truth behind the wool we compete upon and purchase - a task that should never have been necessary if the truth had been made freely available," he said.
"The Australian Wool Industry will be judged ultimately on transparency and integrity.
"These decisions from the NWD Review I fear will negatively affect how all customers view the Australian market and will no doubt influence their future buying considerations".
He questioned why the decision was made to place alternative breech manipulations in the non-mulesing category if they were seeking further information on animal welfare trials.
"AWEX should be the gatekeeper of the scheme", he said.
"The onus should be on the applying entity to provide AWEX with all the independent science and trial work results before being assigned an appropriate classification and code.
"Due diligence involving the customers of Australian wool should also be a major part of any application and assessment."
"This is not about making a judgement of one practice over another. The most important outcome should have always been to be totally transparent...we believe the attitude is completely wrong," Mr Botto Poala added.
In releasing the review AWEX said the NWD and the issues surrounding the declaration were challenging and complex.
"AWEX will commence work, in consultation with industry, to develop appropriate identification methods to meet the needs of wool producers, wool brokers/handlers, exporters and their customers," it read.
The story Wool buyers concerned by National Wool Declaration decision first appeared on The Land.