A Sheep Sustainability Framework is currently under development by Australia’s sheep meat and wool industry. Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) and WoolProducers Australia (WPA) are leading the development of the Framework to demonstrate sustainable practices, identify areas for improvement, and better communicate with customers and consumers.

Demonstration of sustainable production of sheep meat and wool is critical in securing access to local and global markets. We want our customers to be confident that the food and fibre they purchase has been produced responsibly.

The Framework will enable industry to share its story about sustainable food and fibre. It will assist industry to better understand its opportunities, challenges and impacts in key areas such as animal care, business profitability, environmental and climate, and our people and community.

It will improve transparency, provide evidence to our stakeholders that Australian sheep meat and wool has been produced responsibly, and build their trust and confidence in the industry. It will demonstrate that Australia has a commitment to improvement and a clear path towards more sustainable practices where needed.

How is the Framework being developed?
SPA and WPA have established a Steering Group to drive development of the Framework.

The Framework is being developed in consultation with industry (including representatives across the sheep meat and wool value chain, as well as government and technical experts) and external stakeholders (including customers, retailers, special interest groups and investors).

Producers will be represented in the process via peak industry councils and state farmer organisations. Producers will also be able to provide direct feedback on a draft of the Framework via an online survey.

Given the food and fibre scope of the framework, two Rural Development Corporations (RDCs) are supporting the industry framework. Both Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) provide strategic advice and secretariat services to the Framework Board and Steering Group.

The framework design will follow a similar process used by the beef industry to develop the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.

What will the Framework cover?
The Framework will identify key themes, focus areas and priorities, and will include indicators to measure performance against these priorities.

How will the Framework be used?
The Framework will be used to:

  • Identify opportunities, challenges and impacts for sheep production
  • Inform industry investment for improvement in priority areas
  • Help protect and grow access to investment and finance by providing evidence of performance and a clear path to continuous improvement
  • Foster constructive relationships with stakeholders to work collaboratively on continuous improvement
  • Promote the sheep industry to the community and customers
  • Report on the industry’s sustainability performance
What does it mean for producers?
The Framework takes an industry-wide perspective. It does not have any specific requirements for producers and will not involve any certification or accreditation systems. However, it may highlight areas in the farm, feedlot and transport sectors where practices can be improved. It may also inform industry investment in particular practice areas.

At an individual business level, the Framework does not require any direct input as businesses already provide a wide range of information to government and other agencies.

The Framework will be used by industry to guide and track aggregate performance on-farm and at feedlots to ensure that Australia continues to be recognised as a global leader in sustainable sheep production.

A focus on aligning environmental, welfare, social and economic practices with best evidence and community expectations, while growing profitability will help ensure continued access to markets and capital for Australian sheep businesses.

When will the Framework be delivered?
The Framework is expected to be delivered in September 2020.
What is the timeframe for implementing the Framework?
The Framework will not be set in stone. In the future it will need to adapt to changes in the industry’s operating environment and in line with customer and community expectations.
What has happened so far?
The Board and Steering Group were appointed in Q3 on 2019 and have reviewed the range of issues relevant to the sheep industry.

The first draft of the Framework has been developed by taking on board the advice and perspectives of a range of industry organisations consulted in Q1 on 2020.

What’s next?
We are now seeking input from a wider group of stakeholders on this first draft. The stakeholder group includes both those directly involved and those with a strong interest in the industry. This will enable us to develop a Framework that is robust and fit for purpose.

Feedback on the first draft Framework will be gathered through consultation forums in early June.
Stakeholders unable to attend one of these are welcome to provide their input online. All feedback received will be considered in developing a second draft Framework which will be available for further and more public consultation at the end of July.

Who is on the Board?
The Board is a balance of leaders from SPA and WPA.

  • Matt Bartlett (Director, WPA)
  • Jo Hall (CEO, WPA)
  • Jamie Heinrich (Director, SPA)
  • Ian McColl (Director, SPA)
  • Chris Mirams (Chair and Director, SPA)
  • Ed Storey (President and Director, WPA)
Who is On the Steering Group?
The Steering Group comprises 9 industry actors across the supply chain and Australia

  • Prof Bruce Allworth (Chair), Director, Fred Morley Centre, Charles Sturt University, NSW
  • Will Barton, CEO, Gundagai Meat Processors, NSW
  • Dr Will Bignell, Producer, Thorpe Farm, TAS
  • Andrew Blanch, Managing Director, New England Wool, NSW
  • Michael Field, Producer, Jugiong, NSW
  • Johnny Gardner, Producer, Cavendish, VIC
  • Deanna Lush, Producer, Murray Plains, SA and Managing Director, Ag Communicators, SA
  • Emily Stretch, Producer, Kojonup, WA
  • Mark Wootton, Producer, Jigsaw Farms, VIC
For more information, contact Sarah Hyland at Meat & Livestock Australia.

The world first Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework is now open for public consultation and you are invited to offer your feedback, comments and ideas via an online survey and discussion forum. The Framework is due for launch in April 2021. Click here

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