An agricultural industries consultant based in Kingston has been announced as the new chairman of the Sheep Sustainability Framework's Sustainability Steering Group (SSG)
Scott Williams had worked as a veterinarian and technical officer with Coopers Animal Health and recently helped facilitate the development of Wool 2030 for Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).
He said he was honoured to collaborate with members of the SSG and stakeholders to further develop the world's first sustainability framework for the sheep and wool industries.
"I've had a strong interest in sustainability for a long time and I firmly believe the SSF is an initiative that is critical to the future resilience and prosperity of Australian sheep and wool businesses," Dr Williams said.
He said the evolution of sheep and wool products as luxury items were driving the need to make sure that production systems met community expectations.
"Twenty or 30 years ago, farm consultants were strongly emphasising the need to minimise cost of production per kilo of product," he said.
"That's still important, but price factors now come much more into play.
"You can't sustain a 'luxury good' proposition if you don't meet the consumer's expectations for an ethical production system."
Dr Williams had previously managed research and development at AWI to develop alternatives to mulesing, which made him realise the impact sustainability issues could have on the industry.
"Since then, I've assisted a range of industries to develop strategic plans, including long-term visions for wine and wool, and sustainability has emerged as one of the key considerations in all of them," he said.
Dr Williams said he wanted to help the wool industry communicate a commitment to animal welfare, along with the environment.
He stressed an importance to maintaining exceptional quality in the industry while maintaining sustainability.
"For a start, we need to talk more about the fact that wool is natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable," he said.
"We are so much more aware of the problem of waste plastics and microplastics in the world, and textiles made from oil-derived polymers such as polyester are plastics."
He also urged sheep and wool producers across the country to share their stories.
"For example, look at Victorian prime lamb producers Tim and Georgie Leeming, from Paradoo Prime, who are removing adverse animal husbandry practices and have led the way in introducing human-grade pain relief on their property," he said.
"Similarly, wool, prime lamb and beef cattle producers Mark Wootton and Eve Kantor from Jigsaw Farms in western Victoria are committed to sharing the good news story of exceptional animal welfare standards and carbon neutral farming.
"These are the types of stories we should be telling because consumers increasingly expect us to offer products from a value chain that delivers a net positive long-term impact on the people, the animals and the environment we employ to bring those products to market."
The SSG lead the process of refining the Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework, committed to in July 2017 by the Red Meat Advisory Council on behalf of industry.
Officially launched in April 2021, the framework defines sustainable sheep production, prioritises industry issues and measures industry performance against indicators.
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