AWI pulls its support from Sheep CRC

28 Mar, 2013 01:00 AM
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WAFarmers wool section president Ed Rogister said AWI's desicion had angered many growers.
WAFarmers wool section president Ed Rogister said AWI's desicion had angered many growers.

AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation (AWI) has angered the industry with its decision to not support the Sheep CRC in its extension application.

The Sheep CRC was scheduled to run until June 2014 and detailed plans were currently being compiled as part of an application to the Federal Government to extend the program for another five years.

But AWI recently revealed to the Sheep CRC that it would not be supporting the extension application.

WAFarmers wool section president Ed Rogister said WAFarmers and its members were furious that AWI was not interested in funding the extension bid.

"WAFarmers members were presented with information on what the current Sheep CRC was providing for the sheep industry across the country at our Wool Section conference last week," he said.

Mr Rogister said the Sheep CRC had commitment from reputable research organisations, rural research and development corporations and industry associations together with major sheep processors and exporters.

"Unfortunately, AWI was not in the fold," he said.

Mr Rogister said the Sheep CRC had a strong case for an extension.

"It wasn't until a member asked about the funding partners for the extension of the program that growers became angry that AWI was not interested in the benefits the program offered," he said.

"Surely producers would benefit from the proposed programs which focus on improved well-being and productivity through timely response to defined risks for grazing sheep.

"WAFarmers would like to know from AWI, on what basis it is not willing to support the Sheep CRC extension bid, what consultation took place and at what level to reach this decision."

Sheep CRC chief executive officer Professor James Rowe said it was disappointing from an industry point of view.

He said there was a huge opportunity for industry to continue to benefit from on-going productivity improvements through the program.

"It is an excellent way to get a national approach to the big ticket items in the sheep and wool industry," Prof Rowe said.

He said strong financial support was needed from the industry to a competitive CRC application and preliminary funding proposals had been submitted for considerations to the major industry bodies Meat and Livestock Australia, the Australian Meat Processing Corporation and AWI.

"But AWI has informed us last Monday they didn't have any interest in receiving the full application, which means they aren't going to fund the ongoing projects," Prof Rowe said.

Preparation of the extension was being supervised by a steering committee headed by Kate Joseph.

Ms Joseph said even without the AWI support, the extension had a lot of potential and offered a lot of benefit to wool producers across Australia.

"We have got the ongoing support from the farmers and if AWI chooses not to put funding in, then we will still have a successful bid," she said.

"It just means we will have to re-tweak some of the programs."

Ms Joseph said AWI had still not given a full reason as to its decision to pull its funding but said it was unfortunate AWI did not support what the Sheep CRC was doing.

"It would be great to have them on board," she said.

"We asked them where their funding focus was and we aimed to target that focus, but AWI do not see this as their core business, which is disappointing."

AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough said the board had assessed the existing Sheep CRC model of administration and found it to be unsuitable.

"AWI believes after 10 years of funding the current Sheep CRC structure, it is time to explore a new model of investment," he said.

"The company continues to seek projects that are resource-efficient, represent value to woolgrowers, have commercial relevance and are appropriately administered.

"Following the AWI Board and Executive genomics workshop in February, the AWI Board met and re-affirmed its commitment to genetic and genomic projects in the current and next strategic period."

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