THE WA Farmers Federation Wool Section has echoed industry concerns over proposed changes to face branding in the Australian Wool Exchange's Code of Practice. The use of barcoded labels on tops of bales is expected to be implemented in January 2001, thus no longer making it mandatory for brands to be placed on the face of the bale. However, while there are some benefits of using barcodes ‹ for example, it avoids duplicate branding and problems caused by illegible writing, and lessens potential contamination by ink ‹ industry groups are calling for face branding to remain compulsory until the barcode system has been proved in use. In his AWTA report to WAFF Wool Council last week, delegate Barry Shackley said one of the testing house's main concerns was that lot identification may take a lot longer if face brands were not used, leading to loss of productivity. Currently, AWTA sampling officers use the brands to help them identify and describe bales tested. Without face brands, and particularly if barcode labels and systems were not in place, it would make it a much more difficult and time-consuming task for AWTA officers to identify bales. Speaking at the Council meeting, Primaries of WA principal Des Sheedy also said many wool testing systems were designed to read the faces of bales, not from top-down. "Face branding is used for identification all the way through the chain up to the mills. We will say to our clients that they should continue branding," he said. The WAFF Wool Council subsequently carried a motion calling for further industry consultation before the proposed labelling system was introduced; and that if the changes were implemented, they be made only after the wool selling season ending June 30 next year. The call has been supported by the Private Treaty Wool Merchants of Australia, which wants labelled packs to be trialled in shearing sheds, warehouses, sampling lines and in dumps, before mandatory face branding is removed. PTWA assistant director Peter Morgan said members had highlighted several issues that needed to be addressed, including: pthe nuisance value of small bales with labels, but no face brands, being sent in before the majority of bales are coded; pthe robustness of labels and the possibility of them tearing; and pthe possibility of labels being incorrectly coded in the initial phase. "Industry is being asked to accept something which members have had only limited, or no, experience with," Mr Morgan said. The PTWA executive committee has put forward the following recommendations: pThat mandatory face branding remain in place until December 31, 2001. pThat face branding will become non-mandatory for labelled packs from July 1, 2002, subject to satisfactory review. pThat the review be held in early 2002. "This will allow the new packs to be introduced in an air of comfort and co-operation instead of one of concern," Mr Morgan said.