Elders WA boss has confidence

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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Elders WA general manager James Cornish says it is no surprise sheep numbers have decreased after the State recorded its driest year on record.

“After a series of dry season’s, WA farmers have had to consider other commodities and many have experienced cash flow problems, ” Mr Cornish said.

However, in his first year at the helm of Elders in WA, a turnaround in grower confidence is emerging and the wool price is leading the charge.

“The State’s production of 20–23 micron wool is at a 25-year high, ” Mr Cornish said.

“Demand from the major consuming countries is up 58 per cent on last season.”

Mr Cornish told wool growers last week at the Elders Clip of the Sale awards that this demand was expected to remain high as diminished supply struggled to maintain its one per cent share of the textile industry.

He said producers who had stayed with sheep were very good at what they did which had resulted in a dramatic improvement in the fibre’s quality.

“Many of our State’s sheep farmers operate a mixed farming system which is well proven to efficiently spread the risks, especially if drought conditions are occurring, ” Mr Cornish said.

He said sheep numbers nationally had begun to increase, but WA would lag behind the eastern states and he expected the State to begin rebuilding into the 2012–13 season.

Elders, which handles twice the amount of wool as its nearest competitor, had been faced with some challenges over recent years and recognised it lost focus with its core business, Mr Cornish said.

“Through the company’s excellent network of branches, we expect to maintain our percentage of the wool market and our commitment to the industry is stronger than ever, ” he said.

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