Sheep industry goes from death-knell to global star

Just 20 years ago the Australian sheep industry was in dire straits – today its worth more than $8.6 billion per year, an increase of almost 50% compared to 2001.

The Sheep CRC was funded for three terms of operation from 2001-19 by the Commonwealth, and its official history of how it revived the industry’s fortunes was launched in Canberra by Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews.

Minister Andrews said the dramatic turnaround was achieved despite the national flock decreasing in size by more than 40% over this period - on a ‘per sheep’ basis the real gross value of production has increased 2.6-fold.

"While many factors have contributed to its change in fortunes, it cannot be disputed that one of the major drivers has been the work of the Sheep CRC in delivering transformational new technologies," she said.

"The Australian sheep industry has become a global leader in the use of genomic technologies to enhance productivity, has embraced the big data revolution with new predictive apps, and is delivering consumers with eating experiences that are second to none."

Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said the book, Concept to Impact: The story of the SHEEP CRC 2001–2019, captured the scale of the industry collaboration and resulting transformation.

"While many factors contributed to this economic boom for the Australian sheep industry, it is safe to say that it hasn’t happened by chance," Prof. Rowe said. "Transformational industry change like this requires vision, clear objectives, a well thought out strategy and adaptable tactics to deliver real impact.

"Everything that the Sheep CRC did was driven by an understanding of consumer preferences and industry needs so that we could enable the entire value chain to profit from delivering wool and meat products that consistently surpassed these expectations."

This article was first published in The Fence magazine.

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