A PLEA from the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) to pull AWB into line about its reduced

21 Mar, 2007 08:45 PM
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PGA Western Graingrowers chairman Leon Bradley said Mr McGauran had forced WA wheatgrowers to commit most of their 2006-07 harvest to the AWB.

Mr Bradley said he was concerned the wheat giant was now reducing its forecast prices without justification.

He said AWB raised its estimated pool return to $250/t for APW leading up to the government¹s decision on bulk export licensing arrangements in December last year but that figure had since declined to $237.50.

³AWB is complaining it did not get enough wheat to cover its costs and is now entitled to reduce the amount it pays those growers who were forced to deliver their wheat,² Mr Bradley said.

³The truth is that AWB has not been able to achieve the prices promised to growers because of its flawed international reputation as a marketer.

³The company is attempting to shift some of its massive Cole inquiry and related costs to WA growers.²

Mr Bradley said Mr McGauran had forced WA growers to deliver their wheat to AWB, and denied them the opportunity to benefit from some of the highest global wheat prices in the past decade.

³As predicted by the PGA last week, AWB has also announced an extension to the 2005-06 pool, justified by the need to provide security to long term customers,² he said.

³This only serves to punish the reliable growers of WA, forcing us to miss out on high prices to protect the business interests of AWB and Eastern States growers.

³We contend the minister now has an urgent obligation to WA wheatgrowers to ensure that they are not further disadvantaged.

³If necessary, he should also licence other grain exporters to take over the marketing of AWB pool wheat so that it can be sold at better prices and with prompt payment to growers.

³The minister has forced us to deal with a company that is reneging on its responsibilities to pay a reasonable price, on time.²

Mr McGauran said AWB had claimed that the decision to grant two export permits would not affect AWB¹s estimated pool returns.

He said newly permitted exporters CBH and Wheat Australia had agreed to contribute $4/t to the national pool for each tonne of wheat they exported, up to an 800,000t total.

³AWB has cited three reasons for the adjustment to the 2006-07 estimated pool returns ‹ lower quality wheat, softening US futures prices in the last fortnight and lower than anticipated tonnage,² Mr McGauran said.

³The lower-than-forecast tonnage is 3.1mt as against the 3.2mt tonnes forecast.

³It is misleading to assert that the failure to reach the 3.2mt is a result of issuing the two permits because this was the forecast after those permits were issued.²

Mr McGauran said PGA views about AWB and the single desk were well-known.

³Like all farmer organisations, they have had the opportunity to express their opinion on future wheat marketing arrangements to the wheat consultative committee,² he said.

AWB spokesperson Peter McBride said AWB made it clear that pool reductions were a result of lower than expected wheat quality, lower tonnage and softening of US futures prices.

Mr McBride played down claims AWB was attempting to shift costs from the Cole inquiry onto WA growers.

³AWB has been 100pc transparent and repeats that any costs associated with Cole will be paid for by AWB Ltd and not impact on the national pool or wheatgrowers,² he said.

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