After two years in the driver’s seat, Cascade farmer and industry advocate Scott Pickering will this week finish his term as Stud Merino Breeders’ Association of WA president. It is a role the sheep breeder — who has been on the committee for the past decade — has relished. With 2019 and 2020 throwing their fair share of curve balls — from lack of rainfall to the coronavirus pandemic which saw millions of sheep sent east and wool prices topple — he was hopeful last week’s rainfall would “turn things around” and help the State’s flock numbers rebuild. “It’s been a pretty challenging year with the seasonal conditions...and COVID hasn’t helped with the wool prices, but they’ve come back up now and are showing some buoyancy,” he said. He hoped with last week’s rain — which delivered widespread falls upwards of 20-30mm across the grainbelt and up to 170mm in some areas — would turn the tide and see growers rebuild the State’s flock, which is sitting at around 11.6 million. “I’m hopeful now that we’ve got some rain it will turn things around,” Mr Pickering said. “We’ve got lambing coming up in April-May — it’d be good to see some green grass on the ground then. “Meat prices have been good the whole way through so you can’t blame people... but we’re down to a critical ewe mass — we’ve got to build those ewe numbers back up.” He said maintaining good relationships and “open and transparent” communication with commercial clients had also been a focus during his term, which he believed could only benefit the industry. “If we don’t have commercial clients...we can’t sell any rams,” Mr Pickering said. The sheep breeder — who runs Derella Downs and Pyramid Poll studs and is a passionate lobbyist for the State Barrier Fence — was particularly proud of hosting a black-tie event with the association last year, which he said raised $70,000 for Lifeline. Mr Pickering will be succeeded by Wiringa Park stud co-principal and current SABAWA vice-president Allan Hobley, of Nyabing, who Mr Pickering said he believed would do well in the role. The changing of the guard will take place at the association’s annual general meeting in Cottesloe tomorrow.