Frequently Asked Questions

The Sheep Sustainability Framework will assist industry to better understand its opportunities, challenges and impacts in key areas such as animal care, work health and safety, environmental impact and economic resilience.

It will improve transparency, provide evidence to our customers that the food and fibre they purchase has been produced responsibly, build trust and confidence. It will demonstrate that Australia has a clear path towards sustainably produced sheep meat and wool.

There has been public commitment from RMAC members for a Sheep Sustainability Framework since July 2017.

The working definition to be agreed through consultation is “Sustainable sheep production means producing meat and wool in a way that cares for our animals, our people, our planet and our businesses longer term”.

The beef, dairy and eggs sectors already have sustainability frameworks. The new NFF 2030 Roadmap for Industry Growth calls for a national sustainability framework across agriculture to be implemented by 2025. This framework will show why Australian agriculture is a sustainable source of food. The grain and horticulture industries have also developed frameworks.

Broadly, the Framework will cover ‘Caring for our sheep’, ‘Enhancing the environment and climate’, ‘Looking after our people, customers, communities’ and ‘Ensuring a financially sustainable industry’.

The Framework will identify priority areas, select indicators to measure performance and provide evidence of a commitment to continuous improvement to customers and consumers. It will demonstrate that Australia has a clear path towards sustainably produced sheep meat and wool.

The focus of the Framework is on-farm, feedlots, transport, saleyards and processing, covering both sheep meat and wool.

The Framework takes an industry-wide perspective and therefore does not have any direct implications for producers.  However, it may highlight areas where on-farm practices can be improved.

At an individual business level, the Framework does not require any direct input as businesses already provide a wide range of information to government and other agencies.

The Framework will be used by industry to guide and track aggregate performance on-farm and at feedlots to ensure that Australia continues to be recognised as a global leader in sustainable sheep production.

A focus on aligning animal wellbeing, environmental, economic and social themes with best practice and community expectations will help ensure continued access to markets and capital for Australian sheep businesses.

It will support individual businesses by providing the proof behind Australia’s reputation as one of the global leaders in sustainable sheep production. This will assist in maintaining market access for our products.

The Framework will apply at the sector level. Over time, members of the sheep value chain, including producers, may focus on practices that support industry commitments to different areas of sustainability.

The Framework will not:

  • Establish or endorse measurement systems at an individual business level
  • Provide an accreditation or certification system
  • Endorse prescriptive management practices
  • Create paperwork for individual businesses – existing data is used where available

Producers need to be aware of changing customer expectations, reflect on their current practices and take opportunities to improve these where necessary. However, no action is required to develop the Framework at an individual business level.

No. The Framework will apply at the sector level. Existing data and resources are being used where available.

The Framework is being led by Sheep Producers Australia and WoolProducers Australia, with Australian Wool Innovation and Meat & Livestock Australia providing funding together with strategic and secretariat support. RMAC made a public commitment to a sheep framework in 2017 on behalf of industry.

A steering group has been formed to identify priority issues related to Australian sheep meat and wool production with strong representation across regions, and the wool and meat value chain.

There will also be input from industry representatives and stakeholders, including customers, government, interest groups, technical experts and investors.

The consultation process will inform development of the Framework, including consultation with producers via peak industry councils and state farmer organisations. Producers are currently being asked to provide direct feedback on the Framework via an online survey.

The Framework will be developed in consultation with industry and stakeholders. It will follow a similar process used by the beef industry to develop the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.

There are three phases in the consultation process.

Stage 1 (Develop) involved taking draft elements of the Framework to key industry stakeholders, including industry policy groups, advocacy groups and service providers, as well as the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. This stage was completed in March and April 2020 and its findings were used to shape this First Draft Sheep Sustainability Framework

Stage 2 (Design) involved taking the First Draft Framework to industry stakeholders as well as customers, retailers, special interest groups, government and investors for additional development.

Broader consultation is currently underway for Stage 3 (Decide) via an online survey. Feedback from this consultation will further refine the document to create the final Sheep Sustainability Framework.

The Framework will be used to:

  • Identify opportunities, challenges and impacts for sheep production
  • Inform industry investment for continuous improvement in priority areas
  • Help protect and grow access to investment and finance by providing evidence of performance and a clear path to continuous improvement
  • Foster constructive relationships with stakeholders to work collaboratively on continuous improvement
  • Promote the sheep industry to the community and customers
  • Report on the industry’s sustainability performance

The Framework will align with other industry strategies, and may in some cases support their delivery.

The Framework is expected to be delivered in 2021.

The Framework will not be set in stone. In the future it will need to adapt to changes in the industry’s operating environment and in line with customer and community expectations.