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24 February 2014

Sheep CRC gets five-year extension to continue sheep and wool research

The President of WoolProducers Australia, Geoff Fisken, has welcomed an announcement by the Australian Government of a five-year extension to the tenure of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC).

Mr Fisken said the five-year, $15.5 million package for the Sheep CRC would ensure critical research programs would continue and give surety to the immediate future of wool and sheep meat. This is part of a $186 million Australian Government funding package to extend the tenure of four CRCs and create three new ones.

“This is a great outcome for wool producers across Australia and it means we are back on track, and with a guarantee that vital research work will now go ahead until at least 2019,” Mr Fisken said.

“This is the culmination of industry-wide efforts for 18 months involving all WPA directors and our colleagues in other national and state peak organisations. It is very pleasing for us and it means that the wool and sheep industries will continue to compete on the world stage with confidence.”

Mr Fisken said WPA would now put into place its $750,000 commitment to support crucial research work already under way. The wool industry funds were pledged late in 2013 towards the Sheep CRC’s ‘Program 1 – Enhanced monitoring systems for wellbeing and productivity’, which seeks to improve animal wellbeing through research into sheep health and welfare and productivity.

The $750,000 for Program 1 will be paid in annual instalments of $150,000 a year from funds that have been held in wool industry reserves held by Animal Health Australia.

WPA has been part of an industry-wide effort since mid-2012 with the active support of other peak industry councils, RDCs, universities and numerous other stakeholders towards the Sheep CRC extension bid.

Full details of the wool industry funded research:

  • Improved well-being and productivity through timely response to defined risks for grazing sheep, plus auto-monitoring systems that reduce the significant labour costs of monitoring in order to reduce ewe, lamb and weaner mortalities on-farm and improve culling decisions. 
  • Improved market signals, value description and payment systems that reward producers for investing in superior genetics and allow meat processors and retailers to better meet consumer requirements and respond more rapidly to changes in these requirements.
  • Alternative market opportunities identified with a preference for MSA-verified yearling Merinos that are currently discounted to mutton prices. These market opportunities would allow wool growers to get two wool cuts off their wethers and market yearling animals to produce a valued meat product.
    More accurate identification of genetically superior animals at lower cost that will significantly increase industry participation in genetic improvement, allow more sophisticated and comprehensive breeding programs and result in accelerated genetic gain. This will be of particular advantage to the merino industry which is composed of many strains of the breed and more genetically-diverse than meat breeds.

Media Comment

Jane Brownbill
CEO, WoolProducers Australia
0429 940 444 or 



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