WESTERN Australia’s woolgrowers are feeling the heat from the fiery mulesing debate and it may cause them to stop using the surgical procedure before a viable alternative is found.
The industry has agreed to phase out the practice by the end of 2010 but recent pressure from European retailers has left some producers wondering whether they will be forced to give it up immediately.
Farmers at Primaries’ wool information day last week raised concerns over the issue during a group discussion.
Primaries marketing manager Matt Pedersen said although the mulesing debate would continue to rage, the fight was over.
“This has gone far beyond anyone’s expectations, as far as the momentum it has gained amongst European retailers now boycotting Australian wool,” Mr Pedersen said.
“The message I would now be sending is for producers to seriously consider making an immediate change.
“I would be encouraging farmers to make the management decision now to no longer mulse.”
But some producers would need to keep mulesing in the short term.
“Although it is not practical for all farmers to give up surgical mulesing immediately the reality is the quicker we move towards not mulesing the better,” Mr Pedersen said.
“The industry has dropped the ball on this issue dramatically and left Australian farmers will very little choice.
“We have fought the battle and we have lost.”
Mr Pedersen said Australia Wool Innovation (AWI) were not sending producers the right marketing message.
“This has all fired up again since AWI tried to back away from the deadline after the (federal) elections,” Mr Pedersen said.
“They are not accepting this is an issue which is the wrong message to be sending.”
Farmers in the discussion were concerned about the possible implications of giving up the practice before a suitable alternative was found.