CONCERNS over dark and medullated fibre risk (DMFR) in Australia's Merino wool market are reverberating throughout the wool industry.
Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) chief executive officer Mark Grave drew attention to a new DMFR one to five rating scheme for Merino growers at last week's WAFarmers Wool Council meeting.
The Federation of Australian Wool Organisation's scheme is due to be released in July and will be recognised by the International Wool Textile Organisation's Core Test Regulations.
FAWO will also introduce a voluntary vendor DMFR declaration form that will be used by AWTA to calculate a DMFR rating for fleece and pieces lines.
"From July 1, in all auction catalogues there will be a space for a declaration of the DMFR," Mr Grave said.
The onus was on woolgrowers to indicate whether their line was essentially white wool or whether the clip had been running with exotic breeds.
"It is about transparency and trying to get that information out there so better informed decisions can be made," he said.
The declaration had already been incorporated with most classer specifications.
The aim of the strategy was to enable Merino growers to provide accurate information to buyers, so their wool could be marketed fairly.
Wool Council members raised the question of grower honesty and accuracy in the DMFR declaration.
"In any declaration, it is always a problem of integrity in the scheme," Mr Grave said.
"These type of schemes only endorse what the honest upfront producer is doing.
"The more honesty there is, the more objective way it will be to measuring DMFR.
"But certainly the industry is calling for something immediate and this is a step in that direction.
"The intent is that the industry assumes everybody is honest and upfront."
Wool Council members called for a penalty to be incurred by the grower who provided false or misleading information.
Mr Grave said the scheme was not fool-proof and hoped there would be some accountability from the grower to the buyer.
He said Australian Wool Innovation had been financially active in the scheme, investing $1m in a rapid pre-sale test.
Reflecting on the state of the Australian wool industry, Mr Grave said a survey showed the number of professional wool classers had dropped by more than 3000 since the last survey period.
There was just over 21,000 registered wool classers in the current period.
Mr Grave said it was more than AWEX had predicted and although classer numbers had reached a base line, skill levels had improved.
The industry would hopefully see some growth in the area in coming years.