23/10/2007 - 22:00

Poor harvest compounds farmers' woes

23/10/2007 - 22:00

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The Western Australian grain industry had its worst season since the 2002-03 drought, with poor conditions in most parts of the state forcing harvest receivals down.

Poor harvest compounds farmers' woes

The Western Australian grain industry had its worst season since the 2002-03 drought, with poor conditions in most parts of the state forcing harvest receivals down.

Grain handler CBH Group received 6.3 million tonnes of grain in total for the 2006-07 harvest, less than the 7.5mt estimated before harvest, and almost half of the 12.5mt received in 2005-06.

Wheat deliveries made up about 70 per cent of receivals and barley 20 per cent, while the remaining 10 per cent was made up of other grains.

While all regions recorded significantly less tonnages than last year, the Geraldton zone was the worst hit, recording its poorest harvest on record of 422,807 tonnes, 83.5 per cent less than last year.

In what was a turbulent year for the wheat industry, with the fall-out of the Cole Inquiry into AWB Ltd’s kickback payments to the Iraq regime, most WA growers shied away from the national pool, instead choosing to warehouse their wheat in anticipation of changes to the single desk wheat marketing system.

Findings from the Cole Inquiry led to the federal government stripping AWB of its control over the single desk, and handing control over to a grower-owned and controlled group.

The group has until March next year to create a new single desk system, owned and controlled by farmers.

With the 2007-08 harvest kicking off earlier this month, CBH is forecasting deliveries of about 7mt, slightly higher than last harvest but well down on the annual average of 11mt.

Wine production in WA was also down in 2006, with just more than 43 million litres of wine produced, down 14 per cent on last year.

But while export volumes were down, the value of exports rose 2.6 per cent, reflecting the higher prices per litre paid by overseas buyers.

The average export price per litre of WA wine rose 8 per cent to $5.72 per litre, while the national average price per litre fell almost 6 per cent to $3.82.

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