Benchmarking sustainability of Australian sheep industry

IN THE FIELD: Professor in Livestock Systems Bruce Allworth.
IN THE FIELD: Professor in Livestock Systems Bruce Allworth.

Charles Sturt University expertise has contributed to the development of framework for the Australian sheep industry to demonstrate sustainability, improve practices and better communicate with consumers.

The Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework, initiated by Sheep Producers Australia and Wool Producers Australia, was approved last week and will be launched on Wednesday 21 April.

It's been developed by the Sheep Sustainability Steering Group, chaired by Professor in Livestock Systems Bruce Allworth in the Charles Sturt School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.

Professor Allworth said the framework incorporates both the wool and sheep meat industries and has been developed following extensive stakeholder consultation and a review of what's important to the industry.

"While it was a challenge to integrate the two often quite different perspectives, it was important that we delivered a single industry framework," Professor Allworth said.

"In the end, people are concerned about the way we manage our sheep and look after the environment, whether or not they are producing wool or meat."

The Framework has 4 pillars or themes: Caring for our Sheep; Enhancing the Environment and Climate; Looking after our people, our customers and our community; and Ensuring a Financially Resilient industry.

Professor Allworth, who is also Director of the Fred Morley Centre and a member of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation said approximately 60 different data points will be reported in the Framework.

"The Framework will allow the industry to better engage with everyone to show what they are achieving under these four themes.

"However, it is not just about what the industry is doing well, it is also about identifying areas for improvement.

"Members of the sheep industry are very proud of the way they look after their animals and are custodians of the land they manage, but there will be always room for improvement.

"The data provided in the Framework will allow both the industry and consumers to track the performance of the Industry.

"It is important that the figures are robust and seen as a reliable and independent assessment of the sheep industry's performance.

"The Steering Group worked hard to make sure the issues that were important to the industry and its customers were identified and will be reported on," Professor Allworth said.

The development of the Framework was supported by Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation.