AUSTRALIAN-owned wool business, Westcoast Wool & Livestock, has invested in certification to the global Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), increasingly demanded by major retail brands, opening new markets to local growers and the opportunity for above auction prices.
The company also has partnered with AWEX to promote the use of SustainaWOOL.
Westcoast Wool & Livestock is Western Australia's first brokering company to gain certification to the RWS, an independent, consumer-driven, voluntary standard recognising best practices of farmers for their sheep and land management.
It also was the first in WA to partner with AWEX and the Australian industry's SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme, ensuring it has sustainability and traceability programs for all growers to leverage benefits.
These latest moves are attracting more growers keen to market wool through the company under both systems.
Co-ordinator of RWS and SustainaWOOL for Westcoast Wool & Livestock Justin Haydock said the company understood the push from the consumer level and the programs were about acknowledging farmers were "doing the right thing''.
"As a broker, we understand we have a responsibility to offer growers the best possible avenues to market - that is why we are leading the industry and promoting the programs in WA,'' Mr Haydock said.
He said under RWS, which is managed by the Textile Exchange, farms must meet certain standards in the areas of animal welfare, land management and social welfare.
Mr Haydock conducts the required onfarm audits for RWS-certified wools.
Westcoast Wool & Livestock participated in an independent audit to gain its own RWS certification, which incorporated the company's wool store operations and management, occupational health and safety and full traceability from the moment wool entered its stores through to its sale.
"We have previously had exclusive relationships with processing partners, but under the RWS, we can sell wool through to any exporter, mill or buyer in the world,'' Mr Haydock said.
"We are working closely with five to six different companies, from exporters through to processors, each looking at the next RWS clips we will have available and their 'specs'.''
Westcoast Wool & Livestock commences promoting the wools up to a month prior to test results being available, then offers either direct or via auction.
On the development of SustainaWOOL, Mr Haydock said AWEX recognised the industry needed to have a system in place.
Under the SustainaWOOL scheme, growers register and complete their own farm audits for sheep either non-mulesed or mulesed with pain relief.
AWEX undertakes random audits of 20 per cent of SustainaWOOL members.
Once a grower is registered and wool is ready for sale, Westcoast Wool & Livestock, via AWEX, follows a similar marketing course and advises the international trade of the availability of these types.
Mr Haydock said the company's woolgrowers were spread over a range of locations, from 200 millimetre rainfall zones in the Wheatbelt through to high 600mm rainfall areas in the State's south.
He said wool types varied from short fleece wools through to cardings and pieces, and while prices could vary, market premiums were definitely available.
- For more information on Westcoast Wool & Livestock's RWS and SustainaWOOL programs, contact Justin Haydock on 0427 929 200.