Report Detail Page
BESTWOOL/BESTLAMB (BWBL) is a long standing sheep industry extension project, which has been running for ten years. The aim of BWBL is to improve the productivity and profitability of producers as well as fostering positive environmental and social outcomes. It was established in 1998 after findings from the Victorian Wool Industry Review showed there was a need for a major extension project to assist Victorian wool producers. BWBL has been funded for the past three years by Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Australian Wool Innovation and Meat & Livestock Australia. An active Advisory Committee made up of producers and the funding organisations oversee the strategic direction of the program providing insight into sheep producer issues and ensuring the relevance of the program.
BWBL delivers information to producers through self directed discussion groups, using a paid coordinator from either DPI or private consultants. Evaluations of the program have shown that the professional coordination of these groups is a key to the success of the BWBL. BWBL also involves an associate membership for sheep producers who do not wish to participate in group activities. These members, along with group members receive regular updates through the fortnightly email "Newsflash", the bimonthly Newsletter and monthly feature articles in the Stock & Land. Regular phone seminars and regional forums are conducted for members and non members covering topical issues for the sheep industry. Throughout the past three years BWBL has utilised new and evolving technology to communicate and engage producers.
The BWBL network has continued to grow over the three year period. The network has grown from 28 groups to 40 groups and as of the end of June 2008 consisted of 556 group members and 433 associate members. An evaluation conducted by Hassall and Associates has demonstrated that the BWBL project has achieved the aims of the project. BWBL is enabling groups to function well and to access technologies that were highly suitable to members' enterprises.
Overall there has been an improvement in member knowledge, skills, confidence, aspirations and practices with 96% of respondents indicating they had gained new knowledge, 73% had used the information to improve their farm practices, 68% think more about planning for the future, and 65% were more confident about facing future challenges; and as a result about 45% of members felt their involvement in BWBL had led to on-farm production increases, while 33% felt farm profitability had increased. Natural resource management (NRM) had also improved however, members considered that productivity/profitability were their main goals. Almost 90% of members attributed a social benefit to BWBL, nominating networking opportunities to assess different technologies as most important. Members also considered that BWBL had benefits of a personal nature, including improvements in self-confidence and improvements in mental health during difficult times.
Practice change is the result of a complex interaction between physical, financial and social factors which are influenced by a range of external influences often beyond the direct control of individual producers – economic and market conditions; government policies, legislation, programs and priorities; public pressures; environmental and climatic conditions. BWBL provides the ideal environment for producers to explore the modifications required to allow their business to change to meet the requirements of these ever changing external influences.
A number of recommendations have been included in the proposed continuation of BWBL including a revised membership fee structure, an improved marketing plan, web page development and an improved method for capturing quantitative and qualitative outcomes.
This page was last updated on 24/07/2017
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