Livestock

Wool prices break $20/kg mark

By Alana Christensen

Records are continuing to tumble as wool producers cash in on a wave of high prices, with wool fetching more than $20/kg.

The Eastern Market Indicator last week cracked the 2000¢/kg barrier for the first time, with sales on Thursday seeing it finish the week on 2027¢/kg.

It’s been welcome news for producers across the region who had been expecting prices to come tumbling down following the previous record highs of 1800¢/kg that were achieved in January.

For Violet Town producer Anna Toland, who shears 2000 Merino ewes, the prices are unbelievable.

‘‘It’s still going up, I can’t believe it. The prices just keep going,’’ Ms Toland said.

‘‘I guess six months ago I thought it would start to ease up but it just hasn’t.

‘‘I’m not sure what’s going to pull it up at the moment, to be honest ... demand is still going to be there.’’

Producing 18 micron wool from her Merinos, Ms Toland said she believed most of her wool would be bound for China, which continued to spend big on quality Australian wool for clothing production.

Current prices are almost a third higher than at the same time last year when the EMI sat at 1459¢/kg.

It has climbed $7/kg in two years to reach the record highs currently being experienced.

Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors executive director Peter Morgan labelled the recent wool prices ‘‘bloody marvellous’’, with the EMI increasing between 40¢/kg and 55¢/kg every week for the past five weeks.

‘‘They’ve gone well beyond the previous record, and records have just broken records week after week for the past four or five weeks,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s hard not to be surprised that it’s gone on that much.’’

Strong interest from China, which continues to purchase 80 per cent of Australian wool, and India would continue to drive prices in the coming weeks according to Mr Morgan, who admitted there appeared no end in sight to the strong results.

‘‘There’s hardly a bale in a wool broker’s store that’s not en route to the sale floor. People are rushing to shear and get wool in for sale,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s hard not to see it continuing until the end of the season.’’

The buoyant wool market has helped drive greater investment in other aspects of the industry.

MerinoLink and University of New England have announced a partnership for a DNA stimulation project to double the rate of genetic gain in Merino flocks by 2022 by providing breeding program support and expertise to those adopting genetic tools.

‘‘This would help ram breeders have more confidence in their Australian Sheep Breeding Values to make more accurate selection decisions to continue to drive genetic gain,’’ MerinoLink chief executive officer Sally Martin said.