Woolgrowers called to support AWI

Woolgrowers called to support AWI

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Tom Kirk and Drew Chapman admiring the Langdene-blood Merino ewes bred by Daniel Fitzell, Flowerburn, Peelwood winners of the Southern Tablelands Flock Ewe Championship.

Tom Kirk and Drew Chapman admiring the Langdene-blood Merino ewes bred by Daniel Fitzell, Flowerburn, Peelwood winners of the Southern Tablelands Flock Ewe Championship.

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Wool industry leaders identify lack of involvement a major issue among the younger generation

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With fewer of the younger generation of primary producers attracted to wool production compared with the past, industry leaders are calling for more of them to be involved in influencing the future direction of Australia's premier industry.

During the Southern Tablelands Flock Ewe Championship, general discussion revolved around the age groups who are actively interested in Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and the comment was made that if you asked 99 percent of the younger demographic what does AWI do, they could not say.

In response, NSW Stud Merino Breeders Association president Drew Chapman said AWI have in place an initiative where all of the various representative groups from around the country have the opportunity to put forward their ambitions for the wool industry.

"Whether they are the state sheep breeders associations, AWI critics, Wool Producers, commercial ewe competitions, Superfine Woolgrowers and contractors all have been given the chance to have a representative contribute to the AWI ten year plan," he said.

"One of the suggestions coming out of those discussions about the ten year plan is that not many of us are going to be around in ten years.

"So we need to engage with a few more young people and get them actively involved."

Mr Chapman pointed out each of those representative groups has been invited to nominate someone under 35 years to attend the next AWI meeting.

Speaking during the Southern Tablelands flock ewe championship, Tom Kirk said Australian Wool Industry (AWI) is very aware of the change in age demographics among wool growers.

Mr Kirk is a member of the Wool Industry Consultative Panel representing the Merino flock ewe competitions and he said it was important for all woolgrowers to understand it is a 'two-way street' with AWI.

"They want your feedback as much as you want their support," he said.

"What I have learnt is that AWI is the research and marketing arm of your business and you get to vote on who is on the board and how they spend your money."

Mr Kirk thought if not for the recent and current board, those rights would probably have been lost.

"We tend not to worry about things too much at times but you really need to keep an eye on what is happening to AWI because if you don't put in your feedback someone else will make the decision for you," he said.

"There are some who would like to see broader representation on the board and the review of performance recommended a more skills based board but I would like to think there are a lot of skills within our industry so you don't necessarily need to go outside the industry."

Mr Chapman drew attention to an issue which will be raised during the next Wool Poll, tenure of directors.

"There is a push by certain elements in industry to limited that to ten years," he said.

"I'd advocate you don't vote for that."

Mr Chapman said AWI is an incredibly complex company and to attract board members with the skills required across a range of many and varied issues would be difficult if they knew they would only be in the seat for ten years.

"It would probably take a new board member two to three years before they had a full appreciation of all the arms of the company," he said.

"And therefore to tip people out on the basis that you have served your time rather than appreciate the expertise they bought to the board I think is dangerous."

Going on with that comment, Mr Kirk is hopeful more young people will take a committed interest in driving the industry forward and make a contribution to deciding the direction of AWI.

"As an industry we need to be looking at who is coming along and mentor them, preparing them for the future," he said.

"AWI is here to represent all levy players, we are all part of the one industry and shareholders in the one company so there is no need to create divisions within the industry."

The story Woolgrowers called to support AWI first appeared on The Land.

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