IT was a good year for the WA Shearing Industry Association (WASIA) last year with a record number of new members in the past six months and completing a $50,000 turn around in its finances since 2017.
WASIA met for its first annual meeting of the new year at the East Perth Bowling Club last week where about 40 members, sponsors and guests came together to hear the latest industry news and initiatives and how the association was growing from strength to strength.
In its financial report WASIA saw "a net profit of $26,825, and increase of 58 per cent on the previous period and a $52,567 turn around from two years ago".
They also added seven members to the books in the past six months, which was a record for WASIA according to administration officer Valerie Pretzel.
During his president's speech WASIA president Darren Spencer said the past six months had been "quite a busy period for the association".
"This year has been very good for the association - we've seen the amalgamation of a few runs but we have also seen new members join the association," Mr Spencer said.
He said the association's increased profile meant it had come under "more scrutiny from the outside".
"This can lead to our industry being targeted by radicals and people looking to bring the industry to a close with animal welfare standards," Mr Spencer said.
"We've seen in the past year or so where animal activists send out whistle-blowers to get a job and infiltrate industries to broadcast animal cruelty.
"We all need to be aware of what these groups are doing and maintain our high animal welfare standards in the industry."
At the meeting Mr Spencer put forward for vote whether WASIA should write an Animal Welfare Code of Conduct for its members.
The proposal received widespread support.
Mr Spencer said they would get to work on it straight away and while it wouldn't be binding on WASIA members, he hoped that contractors would put it in place to ensure they operate with the highest standards.
WASIA has been involved with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) supported shearer training schools in Esperance, organised by ASHEEP, and Northampton, organised in conjunction with Mhunga Whalla Incorporated, which required a lot of planning on behalf of those involved.
In September he met up with The Sheep Collective director Holly Ludeman at the Perth Royal Show and they ended up forming a group to improve shearer training.
"Holly suggested we use the Peel depot shed for our improvement training," he said.
"We formulated a plan to present to the State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan - we got a very good reception and decided to push ahead with plans for the schools.
"We held the school at Northampton - it was a great success and now there are plans in place to run a similar school in the Brookton/Pingelly area in March.
"Hopefully the minister is still supportive of the concept after that."
Mr Spencer said in July he attended a tour of shearing sheds with Don Boyle - sponsored by AWI - where a bus load of farmers looked at shearing shed designs.
"It was a great initiative of Don's and we got to see five different types of sheds," Mr Spencer said.
"It gave everyone perspective of what could be done on their own farms.
"It was interesting that there was a couple on the trip from Mt Barker who had a hobby farm and they never had a shearing shed on it, so they both had outside jobs and took the day off to come on the bus tour and they thoroughly enjoyed the day, to see what they could do on their own farm to shear their 500 sheep."
Mr Spencer said in August he was "privileged to travel to Melbourne to receive an Australian Wool Industry medal - which was a great honour" - thanking those who supported his nomination.