19/12/2007 - 22:00

Strong grain prices for those with a crop

19/12/2007 - 22:00

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Farmers in some parts of Western Australia may be still reeling from a poor season in 2006-07, but others are looking towards recovery as the 2007-08 harvest nears completion.

Strong grain prices for those with a crop

Farmers in some parts of Western Australia may be still reeling from a poor season in 2006-07, but others are looking towards recovery as the 2007-08 harvest nears completion.

Recording a 6.3 million tonne grain harvest last season, the worst since the 2002-03 drought, grain handler CBH Group says it is confident of exceeding its current estimate of 7.9mt for the 2007-08 season, having received 7.87mt with a few weeks to go.

But while grain receivals were down this year, those growers with a crop to sell had the opportunity to take advantage of record high grain prices.

Low world wheat stocks and strong buying from key export markets drove 2008 milling wheat futures to as high as $480/t in October, up almost 85 per cent on the same time last year.

Prices have since come off their record highs, with wheat currently trading at $390/t, down from a year high of $409/t, and malt and feed barley down slightly from their respective year highs of $454/t and $435/t.

Canola is currently trading at a year high of $587/t.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of wheat export marketing continued to plague WA wheat farmers, with the federal government handing control of the single desk to a grower-owned and controlled group.

The group has until March next year to create a new single desk system to control wheat exports. Meanwhile, the new federal labor government has put forward its model for exporting wheat, which retains the single desk while allowing a number of participants to export Australian wheat.

The debate over genetically modified crops resurfaced during 2007, coming to a head last month after the New South Wales and Victorian governments ended their moratoria on GM canola crops.

Farm lobby groups are pressuring the WA government to follow suit, while a growing number of key export market buyers and food producers are to urging the state government to keep its moratorium on GM food crops.

But GM fibre crops, according to Agriculture Minister Kim Chance, are a different matter. He believes growing GM cotton in the Ord River Irrigation Area could be a viable option.

Industry groups support the move, saying GM cotton would underwrite the development of Ord Stage Two and bring significant economic and social benefits to the region; a welcome bonus after the region’s sugar industry has all but been wiped out after the recent closure of WA’s only sugar mill.

The mill was able process this year’s crop, after the government spent $3.7 million on an emergency bail out earlier in the year, but has since been placed on an indefinite shut-down.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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