Grain move stalls

FUTURIS Corporation has failed in its bid to crack Australia’s export monopoly following the rejection of an application for a licence to bulk export 400,000 tonnes of wheat to Indonesia.

The move has been welcomed by the WA Farmer’s Federation, which said growers’ cooperative pooling would have been destroyed if the licence had been granted.

“It would have been allowed to operate without obligations and responsibilities to growers that currently stand to protect and maximise returns to primary producers,” WAFarmers grains section president Peter Wahlsten said.

“The blatant attempt by bodies such as Futuris to destroy Australian growers’ leading world-class marketing system, with its built-in domestic hedging and contract marketing alternatives for growers, is a further example of corporations wishing to divide, conquer and exploit growers’ returns for their corporate benefit.

“WAFarmers has raised its concerns on the Grains Licensing Authority’s (GLA) issuing of licences in Grain Pool Pty Ltd (GPPL) markets and its detrimental effect on the pool, a case in point which is destroying the single desk system.”

The Wheat Export Authority informed Futuris that its application had been rejected after AWB International exercised its right of veto over bulk shipments.

Single desk systems in WA have been under increasing pressure in recent times due to the issuing of special export licences.

Farmers in WA have been enticed by alternative cash offers from licence holders – the most recent being the granting of a second permit for Elders to export 60,000t of feed barley to Saudi Arabia.

In November the Grain Pool of WA criticised the GLA and the process it used to grant four licences to export 190,000t of feed barley to the Middle East.

The Grain Pool said the move placed downward pressure on returns and threatened the long-term viability of growers’ pools.

However, the GLA rejected this claim, suggesting the rising Australian dollar and freight rates were to blame for lower returns to growers.

WAFarmers has called on Agriculture Minister Kim Chance to review the ministerial guidelines to clearly define the market areas of the Grain Pool Pty Ltd (GPPL) in which the GLA cannot issue licenses.

“Over 80 per cent of Australian growers and over 90 per cent of WA growers support single desk marketing,” Mr Wahlsten said.

“The pressure will continue to build until the minister amends the guidelines to clearly define the market areas in which the GLA cannot issue licences and guarantee the security of the growers’ cooperative pooling system.”

Up to 95 per cent of WA’s grain harvest is exported.

The Grain Pool of WA holds the main licence for the export of $600 million of barley, canola and lupins from the State.

The national wheat exporter, AWB Ltd, holds the bulk wheat export monopoly, or single desk.

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