Grizzling from growers over cost of mulesing

27 Jul, 2006 07:00 PM
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MULESING workshop administrator Kondinin Group has downplayed claims of woolgrowers grizzling at the cost of mulesing workshops.

More than 100 people have been accredited so far in WA and a further 60 are booked in for workshops across the state.

Some WA woolgrowers questioned the difference in price between courses held in 2005 and courses held in 2006.

In 2005 the courses offered were intended to give growers and contractors a head start, but the National Mulesing Accreditation Program (NMAP) regulations had not been finalised.

The courses were training-based only with a cost of about $200.

Participants in the 2005 course still needed to attend an additional half-day accreditation to meet the full requirements of the NMAP.

The accreditation-only workshops are only available to those who trained in 2005 and costs $300.

The first 100 NMAP participants in WA this year received a $200 rebate from the State Government, through the Agriculture Department.

Kondinin Group provided a $200 discount to a further 50 participants because of the large interest in the workshops.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) western woolgrowers chairman Digby Stretch said paying for mulesing accreditation was like swallowing a bitter pill considering the practice would be banned in 2010.

"I can understand the grizzles that are there - it is a very hard concept to sell - but if we don't get ourselves accredited for the surgical operation on sheep, we've got no leg to stand on when we go to sell wool internationally," Mr Stretch said.

"It just has to be done; welcome to the real world folks."

WAFarmers wool council president Max Watts was attending a mulesing workshop when he spoke to Farm Weekly.

Mr Watts said the information and training received on the day was money well spent for any woolgrower.

"The sooner people get on board the better," Mr Watts said.

He said the WA industry had largely accepted the benefits of the NMAP.

"The State Government initiative for the $200 rebate has been excellent," Mr Watts said.

"I hope other organisations adopt the same attitude."

The 2006 course is primarily hands-on, combining the training and accreditation into one day.

Kondinin Group training manager Kareena Waters said this was a more time- and cost-efficient training environment for participants, with a maximum of 12 people per course.

To ensure the accreditation is fair and transparent, three staff are in attendance: two trainer/assessors and a registered training organisation representative from Kondinin Group.

The NMAP has been deemed ineligible for FarmBis funding.

To qualify for the funding the course needs to be mapped to a level four or above.

The NMAP is a hands-on practical course, which is mapped at a level two and three.

The Kondinin Group and the Agriculture Department have made submissions for special consideration without success.

The full cost of the NMAP is tax deductible for woolgrowers.

Meanwhile, Australian Wool Innovation has released a new Visual Breech Scores (VBS) guide.

The VBS guide is a breech scoring system to help the industry investigate the long-term effects of breeding and selection of Merino sheep with breech characteristics known to reduce susceptibility to breech flystrike.

The guide is the first of its kind in Australia and is based on the three indicator traits: breech wrinkle, bare breech area and dag score.

The system is being used in research flocks to determine the heritability of these traits and measure their impact on important production traits like fleece weight, fibre diameter and body weight.

The Agriculture Department is working on similar genetic alternatives to mulesing in WA.

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