The ShearNZ programme for integrity and traceability in wool harvesting launched last month will bring long-term benefits to the country's fibre farmers.
The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association (NZSCA), which developed the programme, and also Federated Farmers believe ShearNZ will have far reaching effects on the future of wool both nationally and internationally.
The industry-developed ShearNZ programme is for the entire wool industry.
It aims to improve communication and strengthen essential partnerships between farmers, wool harvesters and the wider wool industry. It aims to provide robust wool harvesting standards which emphasise sustainable business practice and service to farmers.
ShearNZ preserves tried and true systems and includes them in a set of realistic, yet substantial, standards for shearing businesses. The image of wool is protected and enhanced through the inclusion of practical quality standards and social responsibilities, which both offer considerable benefits
The standards cover employment, health and safety, woolshed facilities, team capability, clip preparation, animal welfare and the environment.
NZSCA chairman Barry Pullin says the programme is about "taking pride in what we are doing". He wants at least half the country's sheep flock shorn by accredited operators within three years.
By using a ShearNZ accredited shearing business, farmers will gain long-term benefits such as assurances their shearing team have a plan and ability to deliver. Knowing all legal and social requirements are professionally managed should give farmers confidence.
In former All Black coach Graham Henry's words from the World Cup, it is about a team having depth, rotational skill and longevity to deliver the full package.
Clear communication involving the farmer, wool agent and wool harvesters prior to shearing, will provide the team with a plan based on current market requirements. This will ensure that the clip is prepared fit for purpose and returns can be maximised.
ShearNZ provides a wool harvesting platform with clear auditable standards. Accredited operators will conduct regular internal audits and every two years will be audited by an independent external auditor.
The programme also provides a blueprint to a more successful business and harvesting industry. Systems and templates, along with the support to implement them, are made available to accredited operators. Independent peer business mentoring is also offered.
For the wool trade, ShearNZ provides wool marketers with an additional point of difference which ensures growers meet integrity programme requirements.
The ShearNZ programme was launched at Untouched World in Christchurch on March 27, with support from numerous stakeholder organisations.
Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson Jeanette Maxwell said the programme was about in positioning wool as a premium product and installing product integrity from the first steps in the supply chain. "Good on them for asking us to join and be a part of this initiative," Mrs Maxwell said.
Also among those supporting the launch were Stephen Fookes of the Council of Wool Interests and the Campaign for Wool, Philippa Wright of the Wool Brokers Association, John Dawson of the Council of Wool Exporters and Peri Drysdale representing the retail sector.