Grain crop exceeds expectations

WA farmers are anticipating a better than expected grain harvest this year despite a late start to the growing season.

CBH has upgraded its harvest forecast from six million tonnes to 8.8 million tonnes.

If the new estimate proves correct it will provide a better result than last year’s harvest of 7.2 million tonnes, but still falls well short of the halcyon three years from 1996-97 when farmers reaped more than 10 million tonnes each year.

Some farmers, particularly in the northern grain-growing regions, have reported staining – which reduces the value of the grain – due to late rains.

Farmers are also hoping for good returns from the merger of WA grain storage, handling and marketing giants CBH and the Grain Pool.

CBH chairman Allan Watson said the merger brought the benefits of a shared grower base and increased control of the grain industry.

Grain Pool chairman Robert Sewell said support for the merged entity was widespread.

However, another grain marketing body, the AWB Limited, has upset WA wheatgrowers with its plan to award itself incentives.

Wheatgrowers will be paying the monopoly wheat exporter between $45 million and $60 million.

They also could have to pay a performance bonus if it meets performance criteria based on the US dollar wheat price obtained, the exchange rate obtained and the level of domestic supply chain costs by more than $US5 a tonne.

If that happens, growers will have to pay the AWB up to a 20 per cent bonus on the excess value up to 1.5 per cent of the gross pool value. The average GPV is about $3.5 billion.

WAFarmers grain section chairman Peter Wahlsten said farmers had to accept the terms because it was in the AWB’s constitution.

“Growers will get the other 80 per cent of any extra profits,” he said.

“We were concerned about it but our grower director on the AWB International board explained to us that this was a good deal. We’ll be keeping a watching brief on it.”

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