There have been many issues which have threatened the existence of the wool industry during the past 200 years when Merino sheep have been bred in Australia.
Some have been divisive to the point of pitting neighbour against neighbour, family against family - think of the troubles to introduce a Reserve Price Scheme in the early 1960's or think again about the rancorous attempts to introduce wide combs.
Each were a cause of much heartache and dispute at the time but wide combs are now so readily accepted, it is a wonder so much time was sweated in denying their use.
That the Reserve Price Scheme eventually came undone only caused great financial pain to the many woolgrowers who continued to breed Merino sheep for their fleeces only to see them added to the wool stockpile until that accumulation was eventually sold.
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It might be said the collapse of the scheme led many woolgrowers to abandon Merino sheep as an enterprise and switch operations on their land.
Another issue which still dogs the wool industry is the Soft Rolling Skin (SRS) concept of breeding Merino sheep with a plain body and long stapled fleece.
At the time of writing, the mere mention of SRS in the pub or woolshed is likely to cause a storm of abuse, when just as many think it a recipe for low production as those who consider it the single saviour of the wool industry.
And the mere mention of mulesing versus non-mulesing sheep will send many into a state of heightened frenzy, with some claiming they will abandon the wool industry if non-mulesing is made mandatory.
But all pale beside the one single factor which will cause the ultimate decline of the industry Australia has been proud to call its own for more than two centuries.
That issue is of course the decline in the number of people interested in working in woolsheds as shearers or roustabouts.
There was a time when many towns across the bush, places like Narrandera, Barcaldine, Hay or Charleville, hosted families who had proudly worked in shearing teams for generations.
Among many, those 'shearing' towns were prosperous and vibrant when the wool industry was at its peak - but they are now struggling to retain a sense of purpose.
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The lack of shearers is a true 'Catch-22' position.
As sheep numbers declined during the 1980s, so those who might normally have looked to woolsheds as a place of employment sought jobs elsewhere.
And with shearers so hard to come by, producers are selling the Merino sheep and investing in shedding sheep or cattle - further exacerbating the situation when there are less sheep to be shorn.
The industry had come to rely on shearers from New Zealand to fill the gaps, but with the COVID lockdown, it only highlighted the lack of local shearers.
Ultimately, no shearers means no wool - and consider the consequences.
No woolbrokers in country towns, no wool transport firms to carry the wool from woolshed to selling centre, an entire infrastructure and labour force build around the purchase and distribution worldwide of the wool will be gone.
Not to mention entire processing and retail industries whose very existence has been reliant on Australian wool.
The global ramifications of the complete collapse of the Australian wool industry if the sheep cannot be shorn does not bear thinking about.
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