Australian wool growers, who have suffered years of low prices and shrinking profits, finally appear to be getting the break they were hoping for.
The price of wool per kilo is now nearly double of what it was just six years ago.
“Wool here in Australia has just reached the 20-dollar a kilo mark, which is just phenomenal and it has seen enormous growth over the last year or two,” said Fiona Simpson, president of the National Farmers’ Federation.
“That is due, in part, to the take-up of wool by China. China loves our wool and, as such, the demand from China has really been boosting our Aussie wool prices,” she said.
Australian farmers shear sheep on a farm near Walcha, New South Wales. /CGTN Photo
Exports to China alone last year from the world’s largest wool producing country totaled nearly 3 billion Australian dollars.
The bump in prices is presenting some farmers who have struggled for so long with a rare opportunity.
“The prices we are getting at the moment are actually sustainable, so we can do all the things we need to do on a farm like putting out our fertilizers and fixing our fences, because a lot of that hasn’t happened in the last 10 or 15 years very much,” said wool grower Katrina Blomfield.
The recent tough times for Australia’s wool growers have actually led to a shrinking supply, which is helping to boost prices.
View of a farm in Premer, New South Wales. /CGTN Photo
“People exited the industry when it looked like prices were on a downward spiral but those who have hung in have certainly benefited now and are seeing the welcomed results of record wool prices,” Simpson said.
It’s unclear how long the good times for the industry will last because of the impacts from a drought.
All of New South Wales, which produces most of Australia’s wool, is coping with the kind of dry conditions not seen here for nearly half a century.
Aerial photo shows drought conditions in New South Wales. /Reuters Photo
On some properties, grazing is no longer an option and farmers are now faced with the expensive necessity of having to buy feed for their livestock.
“Everyone is suffering a terrible drought at the moment and all that wool prices are paying for feed to keep the animals going. So I think a lot of people are yet to see a good profit where they can fix up infrastructure and buy new machinery to do those,” said Blomfield. “We have to wait for the drought breaks for that to happen.”