Wool clips rewarded for quality

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Bob GarnantThe West Australian

Australian wool was celebrated last week at an Elders awards function, in which WA Agriculture Minister Ken Baston urged growers to lift production.

More than 190 woolgrowers and industry representatives gathered for the annual Elders Supreme Clip of the Sale Awards in Como.

The awards are given out to the top-selling offerings of each Elders sale over the year.

Elders WA technical manager Danny Burkett welcomed a list of dignitaries, including Mr Baston, with special mention to the stars of the evening - the award-winning woolgrowers.

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Mr Burkett said Elders worked hand in hand with its grower clients in a bid to get the best returns for them week-in, week-out.

"We share in an industry where we're all involved in the wonderful product of wool," he said.

Mr Baston then recounted fond memories of working in the industry. In his 34-year career in wool production, he could recall only two years of financial loss.

"Although the wool industry has had many lows and highs, WA values have been at a peak since the 2008-09 season and the dollar returns should help to increase growth," Mr Baston said.

"Of the State's sheep income of $2 billion in 2013-14, wool accounted for $582 million, representing 62 per cent of the total returns."

Mr Baston said wool had a bright future if the industry could harvest the opportunities at its doorstep.

As the awards were handed out, the late Bryan Kilminster was remembered. The Bruce Rock woolgrower died in a farming accident in April.

Mr Kilminster's daughters, Tanya Butler and Michele Clement, accepted the award bestowed to their father's Woollahra clip.

"We were very proud of father's achievements, he stood true to wool and would have loved to be here to accept this award," Mrs Butler said.

Elders agent Jarrad Hubbard said it was wonderful to see Mr Kilminster's daughters at the awards function.

Other first-time wool award winners included Marvel Loch growers Romolo and Jane Patroni.

Mr Patroni said sheep would always have a place in the Wheatbelt.

"When we have a dry season, sheep get us through financially so we stick with them," he said.

"We like big-framed dual-purpose Merinos with free-growing wool."

The Patronis run 2000 Collinsville-bloodline ewes and their 19-20 micron Lincoln clip is shorn in July.

Mrs Patroni said wool was a clean, green product and should be used more in fashion.

Trayning woolgrowers Jack and Ann Grylls, who farm with their son Robert and his wife Lauren, were pleased to accept an award for their Newcourt clip from sale F11.

The Grylls run 1700 Merino ewes on their wheat and sheep property.

"It is good to see the values for agricultural commodities so strong. We hope it continues," Mr Grylls said.

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