AGRICULTURAL lobby groups, WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) have joined forces to condemn the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) scare campaign against Australian wool.
The move was prompted following the boycott of Australian Merino wool by American retailer Abercrombie and Fitch last week after the animal rights group threatened to publish controversial advertisements highlighting the practice of mulesing on Australian sheep.
The group wants the practices of mulesing and live export banned.
WAF president Trevor De Landgrafft said the boycott was a timely reminder to farmers that animal welfare groups such as PETA could have a significant impact on farmers operations.
"We have to brace ourselves for continued actions taken by extremist groups like PETA and as an industry we just can't afford to ignore them," he said.
"We have to pull together and fight against these middle class metropolitan idealists and demonstrate to the world our ethical and environmental credentials.
"It is important to realise that the boycott of Australian wool it is actually not a big win for PETA in terms of achieving their goals in a practical sense because Abercrombie and Fitch are actually not large stockists of wool.
"However it is a large moral boost for the group because with just a sniff of industrial blackmail they have made a retail giant roll over."
Millions of dollars were being spent annually on making improvements to animal welfare along with developing alternative non-surgical mulesing procedures.
Increased resources and a commitment from farmers were essential to the success of any counter-campaign according to Mr De Landgrafft.
"We have to be proactive and sharpen ourselves as an agricultural lobby group and make sure that we are well resourced and have all farmers united in helping to finance what is going to become an expensive process to demonstrate our ethical and environmental credentials not only locally but also internationally.
"We have to find the resources to do much more effective lobbying in political circles, not just in Canberra but New York, London and Europe as well."
Mr De Landgrafft said if representatives from Australian lobby groups were not active at the international political level to present their argument, the truth of animal welfare practices in Australia would not be represented.
The Pastoralists and Graziers' Association was prepared to debunk PETA's anti-mulesing campaign by demonstrating what blowflies could do to an un-mulesed sheep.
"If they have pictures of dead sheep in paddocks, we can show them the real stuff on un-mulesed sheep being eaten alive by millions of maggots," PGA president Barry Court said.
Mr Court said Australian woolgrowers would not stand by and watch Americans denied access to the oldest, rarest and finest fibre on earth.
"PETA apparently does not understand that our wool is a natural product produced on grass, or that the synthetic fibre alternative is derived from fossil fuel," Mr Court said.
"PETA is attacking us for using the best proven method of protecting sheep from blowfly strike, which will always pose a major threat to this industry."
Mr Court said PETA activists needed to come and see why Australian farmers were mulesing along with seeing other measures being taken to improve the health of sheep and the quality of wool and meat Australian farmers produced.