Sustainability framework puts industry on front foot
July 25, 2019

Column by Chris Mirams

Chair, Sheep Producers Australia

 

The Australian sheep sector has long known it has a great story to tell when it comes to the lamb, sheepmeat and wool products we supply to the world.

As our industry continues to grow and develop, it is becoming increasingly vital for us to understand and meet our customers’ needs and expectations. We need proof behind our reputation as one of the global leaders in sustainable sheep production to provide certainty to our customers, consumers, investors and other stakeholders.

This week, Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia have announced the start of a collaborative project that will collate the evidence needed to demonstrate our sustainability credentials and enable us to be on the front foot when engaging with those outside our industry.

The project is creating the Sheep Sustainability Framework, which seeks to improve transparency and build trust with the Australian community by aligning industry practices and community expectations.

It aims to celebrate our strengths – those areas of production where we are best practice – and identify areas where improvements can be made. It will enable industry to better understand its opportunities, challenges and impacts, to define sustainable sheep production and track annual performance using a series of indicators.

Most importantly, it will be developed in consultation with industry and stakeholders – ensuring that what is important to those within and outside of our industry is considered.

Our colleagues in the beef, dairy and cotton sectors have developed sustainability frameworks and the new National Farmers Federation 2030 Roadmap for Industry Growth calls for a national framework across agriculture to be implemented by 2025.

The beef industry reports that its framework has been well received by industry and external stakeholders and has enabled robust, credible and practical measures to demonstrate its sustainability credentials.

The consultation process will identify priority areas for industry focus, select indicators to measure performance and provide evidence of a commitment to continuous improvement. This will, in turn, help grow access to investment and finance, protect market access and foster constructive relationships with stakeholders.

It takes an industry-wide perspective and so does not have direct implications for producers, nor is it about certification or compliance, however it may highlight areas where on-farm practices can be improved.

SPA and WoolProducers has appointed sheep industry consultant, producer and researcher Professor Bruce Allworth to lead the consultation process.

We believe Prof Allworth’s experience across all facets of the sheep and wool industry will be integral to bringing together all stakeholders. He will lead a steering group to drive implementation of the framework, supported by expert working groups.

SPA and WoolProducers thank all the industry partners who have been involved with supporting the framework so far and we are excited about what will be achieved through this joint project. We will keep industry and stakeholders updated on progress as work commences.

Details: Register for updates at www.sheepproducers.com.au and www.woolproducers.com.au

© 2019 Sheep Producers Australia