A COLLABRATIVE effort from all areas of the wool industry could bring on a boom period for the sector according to one of industry's key figures.
AgForce sheep and wool board president Mike Pratt, Longreach, said there were several key issues facing the industry at the moment, such as labour shortages, price squeezes for wool and a dependency on off-shore processing.
However, recent developments such as the expansion of exclusion fencing has the life-long wool producer confident the industry could be about to enter a period of prosperity.
"The fact of the matter is, we all have a part to play in ensuring this industry not only has a bit of a revival in Queensland, but can be sustainable for the future," Mr Pratt said.
"In my opinion, Australian Wool Innovation must re-invest and substantially increase funds withdrawn from promotion and marketing due to COVID-19 as soon as possible, to lift our share of the world apparel market above three per cent.
"The wool market is rising with the Northern EMI above 1500 cents a kilogram, however it needs to rise another 20pc to an EMI of 1800c/kg in a bid to halt the flow of producers out of the industry.
"In saying that, AWI is not the only one with a role to play on that front, producers can play a vital role by optimising production using genetics to lower micron and increase fleece weight, scanning ewes for pregnancy status and culling or re-joining empties, as well as matching stocking rates to a safe carrying capacity, as well as supplementing rams and ewes at critical times."
In regard to helping combat crippling labour shortages, which are impacting all areas of the agricultural sector, Mr Pratt said he was hopeful educational programs may help attract new blood into the workforce.
"It's no secret people are more inclined to run meat sheep and goats these days because of the availability of shearers," he said.
"However, the training schools being run by AWI across the state have proved really popular and have given aspiring shearers the tools and experience they need to begin a career in the shed.
"Students also get a $2000 starter kit when they attend those schools and a lot of contractors have been really good at taking those students on and giving them work, which is something I would really like to see continue, that's the only way we can improve the numbers of the local workforce.
"AgForce is also optimistic that the Longreach Pastoral College may resume training under private ownership and are working with stakeholders including the government to help create this outcome."
While training schools and the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) opportunities enable eligible businesses to hire workers from the Pacific Islands and Timor-Leste, Mr Pratt said growers also had a role to play in attracting workers.
"Honestly, most producers take a lot of pride in their facilities and their operations," he said.
"However, I think every grower needs to make sure they have adequate facilities such as toilets and hand washing stations at the shed. "As well as that, it is also important to provide a safe working environment and acceptable, tidy, clean living conditions at the shearers quarters.
"By doing this, coupled with the outstanding wages currently on offer to shearing teams, the industry will give itself the best chance to improve shearer numbers."
Despite there being much to do to bring the industry back to its former glory, Mr Pratt said there was still a lot of opportunities for growth.
"Historically, one of the biggest challenges facing the industry was wild dogs and other feral animals ravaging sheep flocks," he said.
"However, over 25,000km of exclusion fencing has gone a long way to solving that problem, hopefully for good.
"There's also the prospect of fledgling company Queensland Wool Processors Pty Ltd, which has an exciting new development initiated by Blackall-Tambo Regional Council mayor Andrew Martin of an end-to-end wool processing plant in Blackall, while company chairman, John Abbott has advised us that the engineering design for the plant is almost complete
"So with all of that in mind, I think there is plenty to get excited about if the industry can pull together to help attract people back to the sector."
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