Australia

Sustainability scorecard released for Australian sheep and wool industry

Sheep

The second Annual Report of the Sheep Sustainability Framework (SSF) was released at a launch event at Anlaby Station in South Australia revealing the broadest range of data to date on the performance of the Australian wool and sheepmeat industry.

Posted on May 16 ,00:05

Sustainability scorecard released for Australian sheep and wool industry

Led by Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia, the SSF was launched in 2021, with the first Annual Report released a year later, containing 58 indicators under 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.

SSF Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) Chair, Dr Scott Williams, said the Annual Report had made notable gains in its reporting capacity over the past year, with a range of new information being added in 2023, including 25 new baseline data points in the latest iteration.

"When we launched the inaugural Annual Report in 2022 just over half of the indicators were reported with data", Dr Williams said.

"Today, 91 per cent of our indicators are reported with data and we are on track for 100 per cent next year. These metrics allow us to determine directional changes over time, highlight our successes, identify areas for improvement and demonstrate the sustainability credentials of one of Australia’s most important industries".

One of the key priorities of the Framework is to reduce the industry’s net greenhouse gas emissions. The CSIRO reports net emissions generated from Australian sheepmeat and wool production in the latest reporting period (2020) was 9.49Mt CO2e, down from 10.21Mt CO2e in 2019 and 11.39Mt CO2e in 2018.

The percentage of producers who have completed the six-day Lifetime Ewe Management (LTEM) training with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), a program of best practice adoption, has increased to 9.4% of all AWI-eligible wool levy payers (up from 8.09%).

Other highlights include:

  • The percentage of non-mulesed/ceased mulesed bales offered has risen to 15.8% (Merino) and 40.1% (non-Merino).
  • Zero fatalities in the sheep industry in the latest reporting period (2020-21)
  • Sheep mortality on ships during export has declined to 0.14%
  • The percentage of Australians who believe Australians lambs are farmed and raised in a humane manner has risen to 55% (from 53%)
  • Investment in wool research, development and adoption has increased 18.5% to $32.7m
  • Rise in Australia’s value share of global sheepmeat exports (45%) and global wool exports (75.5%)
  • The percentage of sheep-grazing land achieving 50% ground cover is holding steady at 62.2%
  • Australia continues to be declared free from 12 major diseases
  • 91% of producers use vaccinations to prevent disease and protect their flock (new data)
  • 50% of sheep producers generate and use renewable energy (new data)

There have been directional declines in research, development, and adoption investment in sheepmeat, and the gross value of agricultural production for both sheepmeat and wool and an increase in the number of serious injury workers’ compensation claims.

Independent Chair of the SSF Board and sheep producer, Lucinda Corrigan, said each Annual Report was an expression of the commitment to continuous improvement across the industry.

"One of the most important functions of the Annual Report is to bring transparency to our industry and identify areas where we need to improve", Ms Corrigan said.

“We have a duty to our people, our animals and our consumers to strive for excellence in sustainability and continue to affirm the Australian industry’s position as among the best in the world".

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