AWI angers WA producers

30 Aug, 2013 02:00 AM
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David Thompson said he was disappointed AWI would not be funding the Bred Well, Fed Well workshops in the future.
David Thompson said he was disappointed AWI would not be funding the Bred Well, Fed Well workshops in the future.

AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation (AWI) has decided to discontinue its funding of the Bred Well, Fed Well workshops.

The move came this week, with AWI saying the program was adequately commercial to stand alone without AWI underwriting.

The workshops are funded by AWI and MLA as part of their Making More From Sheep Initiative.

An AWI spokesman said the body was committed to investing in genetic and genomic research and development as outlined in its current Strategic Plan.

"Due to the high level of uptake and commercial interest from industry for the Bred Well, Fed Well program, the opportunity now exists to license out the provision of the service," he said.

"AWI is holding discussions with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) for a smooth exit of AWI funding over the coming months.

"The model of delivery is to be admired and so the development of a genetics extension program with a significantly increased wool focus is now under development."

But when asked about AWI's decision, MLA said it was unable to comment as it had not heard anything official, but a spokesperson confirmed that of the 46 workshops, which had been held throughout the country, a majority of the 1200 participants rated each workshop very highly.

In June 2013, MLA and AWI executed phase two of the management agreement where AWI was appointed the project manager.

The MLA spokesperson said when or if formal notification was to be received from AWI, that it was not its intention to continue, the MLA would have to reassess its position.

Moojepin Merino stud principal David Thompson, Katanning, said he was extremely disappointed with the decision.

He said there could be no argument that pulling funding for such a successful program had been made for the benefit of the industry.

"The Bred Well, Fed Well workshops are the only thing that AWI puts money into that has actually had a benefit for producers," Mr Thompson said.

"I was in complete bewilderment after learning that AWI has decided to cease its funding."

Mr Thompson implored AWI to improve the transparency of its decision making.

"I think it has been lacking transparency in explaining the decisions it makes and it doesn't answer criticisms at all," he said.

"AWI only just signed the agreement to run the workshops for another two years.

"Not only can you not trust its word, it now seems even its signature is worthless.

"We were told that Bred Well, Fed Well was so successful AWI thought it should be privately funded rather than with levy funds.

"Why then would it sign a contract for two years only to renege two months later?

"These workshops focused squarely on the two things that are most likely to improve a sheep producer's profitability – optimising nutrition and making genetic gain in commercial flocks and they have made an enormous impact on the profitability of sheep enterprises throughout the country."

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READER COMMENTS

Don't be a Wally with our money
30/08/2013 7:30:30 AM, on Stock & Land

Yet again AWI makes a dodgy decision. Lack of transparency by a narrow minded and intellectually challenged board. No wonder that the majority of WA growers voted zero. When we have a new government in place the first letter I will be writing to the Ag minister is one asking for the axing of the AWI board and to stop this blatant compulsory union type levy. Kick them out and start again. I note that despite the Aus$ dropping by more the 15 cents that wool prices have gone backwards. Glad all that marketing money is been spent so well!
John Niven
30/08/2013 7:33:33 AM, on The Land

It's simple. Vote for a ZERO wool levy and spend your own money as you please.
pricetaker
30/08/2013 12:49:14 PM, on Farm Weekly

AWI =another wasted idea .but hey its only the poor old wool producer enforced 2%
piece maker
1/09/2013 11:08:51 AM, on Stock & Land

John Niven I never believed I would say this but; "Welcome on board"
Paddy
2/09/2013 6:30:45 AM, on The Land

Now I know why I voted ZERO in the last two wool polls. What a surprise that AWI has cut funding to something that was so successful. The program promoted the use of ASBVs and AWI couldn't embrace something that modern. What will they waste our funds on next.
youngwoolgrower
2/09/2013 7:05:24 AM, on The Land

My opinion, if you want to keep young people in the sheep and wool industry we need to make more money. To do this we need to be breeding higher productive merinos that are more fertile, are easier to maintain and cut more wool. It’s programs like the Bred Well Fed Well that can help you to achieve these outcomes. AWI has wasted millions of dollars on marketing and other programs (e.g. mulesing clips) and let’s face it we are still getting the same prices for wool we did 20 years ago. I can’t help but think that the decision to stop the funding is a self interest one. Time for a new board.
John Niven
3/09/2013 5:46:23 AM, on The Land

Dream on youngwoolgrower. Set up a wool reserve price scheme and watch the money fall from the sky. As a matter of interest when I was a kid, not yesterday, Sir Walter Merriman opposed the Reserve Price Scheme. Market interferrence is the greatest single impediment to profitability.
youngwoolgrower
3/09/2013 9:43:09 AM, on The Land

John once again you are looking at things that happened in the past, time to move on and use latest technology, and believe me there are people doing great things with this technology. If AWI won't support these people they will probably just do it themselves anyway and vote ZERO.
John Niven
3/09/2013 4:34:59 PM, on The Land

I hope they vote ZERO. I don't speak fro Wally Merriman but I don't think a Zero vote would bother him a lot. Give me a call, my politics may surprise you.
votezero
4/09/2013 5:43:19 PM, on Farm Weekly

Surely the federal government must again review governance at AWI.. The traditional breeders on the board fear what ASBVs will do to their businesses and are (miss) using their power to keep commercial breeders unaware of the potential gains
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