'Iraq war' delays $500m
By TIM SLATER
PAYMENT of the sixth 2001 AWB National Pool, originally scheduled for June and estimated at about $500 million, has been delayed following the Iraq war, the Australian Wheat Board has announced.
AWB national pools general manager Sarah Scales said the consequences of the war and risks surrounding "contract execution", particularly with the Grains Board of Iraq, meant that continued caution was needed before the pool was finalised.
"As a result of the circumstances in Iraq, we have seen some modification to our shipping program," Ms Scales said.
"Therefore we will not be making a sixth distribution in June as previously advised."
PGA grains policy officer Damien Capp said he thought the delay was unusual.
"Usually the pools are wound up within 15 months so there are growers out there who would have traditionally been expecting that cash flow at this time of year," he said.
WAFarmers grains section president Peter Wahlsten said the delay would put pressure on farmers who were relying on payment to help fund their seeding program.
He said if farmers were having problems they should contact AWB's Perth office to try and make some individual arrangements to help get their crop in.
Ms Scales said growers will be advised when the next distribution would be made as soon as the situation in Iraq "becomes clearer".
While Ms Scales sympathised with farmers needing payment to help their seeding cash flow, she said a fifth distribution from the 2001 AWB National Pool, the AWB's largest ever pool distribution, was paid recently.
She said the AWB remained actively involved in discussions with the Australian Government and the United Nations to hopefully deliver a result that was in the best interests of Australian wheat growers.
The AWB announced in December it would be extending the 2001 Pool and adding a sixth distribution to manage the risks associated with large stock volumes and maximise value for 2001 AWB National Pool participants.
AWB spokesman Peter McBride said the deferred payments mainly affected milling grades. He said instalments of between $7 and $40-50 a tonne were expected.