Framework for a more sustainable industry

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
Sheep Sustainability Steering Group chairman Professor Bruce Allworth.
Camera IconSheep Sustainability Steering Group chairman Professor Bruce Allworth. Credit: Supplied

The Australian sheepmeat and wool industry has launched the world’s first sheep sustainability framework.

The Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework, launched last Wednesday by Sheep Producers Australia and Wool Producers Australia, aims to demonstrate sustainable practices, identify areas for improvement, and better communicate with customers and consumers.

The framework lists 21 priorities across the four themes — caring for our sheep; enhancing the environment and climate; looking after our people, our customers and the community; and ensuring a financially resilient industry.

The framework has been developed by an industry-led sustainability steering group after a year of close consultation.

Sheep Producers Australia chairman Chris Mirams said there were significant opportunities available to Australia’s sheep industry due to the world’s growing interest and demand for sustainably produced food and fibre.

“Increasing access to markets and investment, building confidence in the integrity of sheep meat and wool products, enhancing community trust and better rewarding industry are some of the opportunities we have as a result of this growing consumer interest,” he said.

“The Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework has been designed and developed so our sheep industry can best harness these opportunities.”

WoolProducers Australia president Ed Storey said there was an opportunity for the sheep industry to articulate its sustainability story better.

“To me, being transparent is the key to the Australian sheep industry seizing our opportunities and maximising the benefits,” he said.

“Having this industry-led framework means that we will provide an open and honest picture of our high standards of practice and performance using the most appropriate and robust data available.”

Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework Steering Group chairman and Holbrook wool and prime lamb producer Professor Bruce Allworth said there were challenges linked to the many available opportunities.

“For the industry to seize these opportunities, we need to ensure we address challenges such as ensuring businesses are financially sustainable, avoiding land degradation and biodiversity loss, managing climate risk and water scarcity, meeting expectations on animal welfare, and protecting human rights in the global supply chain,” he said.

“Across the 21 priorities there are relevant indicators and metrics so we can measure and track industry performance year on year.”

“This evidence base will help ensure continued access to markets and capital for Australian sheep businesses. It will also support continuous improvement across the industry.”

Professor Allworth said implementation of the framework would be addressed through a three-year strategy with annual plans that woudl engage industry stakeholders and experts to tackle sustainability challenges for the industry.

“Constructive engagement via the formation of a consultative committee comprising industry and external stakeholders will ensure that we achieve our vision in the framework — that is, sustainably producing the world’s best sheepmeat and wool, now and into the future,” he said.

“Over the next year, the immediate plan is to capture baseline data for metrics that were not available at the time of the framework launch.”

Professor Allworth said The Sheep Sustainability Framework would be a living document subject to review and refinement so it remained and met the expectations of all stakeholders.

“This ongoing commitment to transparency, continual improvement, and engagement will ensure the Australian sheep industry remains a strong and important industry for its participants and its customers,” he said.

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