New Merino Growers Co-Op.
Fine wool producers in two states have formed a new co-op, assisted by Farming Together, the highly successful program reshaping how Australian farmers work together.
Mid-January saw the official launch of the Australian Ethical Merino Growers Co-op, attracting about 15 attendees from NSW and Tasmania. The group represents around 40,000 sheep. It is being facilitated by Bowral-based Andrew Ross, founder of Outdoor Merino Clothing brand Bluey Merino.
The group is co-developing a traceability platform called MyOrigins, and a website to share their stories of sustainable merino wool production.
Andrew explained the producers formed the co-op to take advantage of national and international market opportunities around the new Responsible Wool Standard and support a premium price for their fleece and lamb meat.
“We are seeking to integrate Australian ethical merino wool production with international markets – particularly North American buyers,” he said. “We are also hoping to boost values for Australian farmers and offer certainty of supply contracts over forward years.”
Among the members are Tasmanians Lindsay and Rae Young from at Ross, Tasmania, running 7000 head at an average 19 microns. Meanwhile, the third-generation Blomfield family enterprise from Walcha, NSW, operating the Karori merino stud of 5,000 averaging 16.4 microns are co-op members, as are Michael and Milly Taylor, of Kentucky NSW, who run 3,500 sheep at an average 16.2 microns and and Bruce and Anita Taylor, running 5,500 at 16.5 microns. Philip and Alison Attard of Uralla, NSW are aiming for an 18,000 head flock with an average micron of 15.6. Philip said: “This group is increasing the industry’s credibility.”
Chris Cocker and Shelley Saunders-Cocker of Barega, Tasmania, are also among co-op participants. They run 3,000 head at an average 14.5-15 microns. “We think this group is the way of the future,” said Chris.
Federal Government Support.
The group received $175,000 from Farming Together and is seeking other merino wool producers with a commitment to sustainable & ethical farming practices.
Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said the co-op was among more than 700 farming groups, totalling in excess of 20,000 farmers, who have become involved in Australian Government-funded initiative. Visit www.farmingtogether.com.au.
Another round of Farming Together expert advice opened on February 1 and closes on 31 March, 2018.
“We are looking for cutting-edge, legacy-building projects that encourage transferable knowledge, with the capacity to change the face of your industry,” Lorraine said. “Our proven ag-consultants can assist to advance your projects through legal advice, appropriate business structures and strategies, raising capital, logistics/supply chain management, exporting, e-commerce such as trading platforms, facilitation, compliance and quality assurance, just to name a few.”
The support is available to groups of two or more non-related Australian farmers registered under ATO guidelines. Go to www.farmingtogether.com.au, click the green button and fill in the super-easy form. It only takes 15 minutes and then you’re on your way.