CO-OPERATIVE Bulk Handling (CBH) is hoping to wrap up harvest in a hurry and put behind them what ha

14 Dec, 2006 07:00 PM

³The sooner this harvest is out of the way the better,² Mr Tutt said.

³From a grain handling point of view it has been a huge challenge and in many aspects we¹ve all had some difficult and complex issues to deal with but if we shut down hard we should come out of it in good shape.²

Mr Tutt said he expected this season¹s harvest to be completed in the next week or so, ahead of the normal harvest finish time but well down on the amount of volume handled at this stage last year.

He said at the same stage last year CBH had handled more than 8.8mt of grain compared to the 5.4mt collected so far this season.

³We¹re still 3.4mt off last year¹s pace but to be fair it has been a very disrupted harvest,² Mr Tutt said.

³We¹ve had to deal with extreme hot weather causing harvest bans and rain delays along the way as well as other normal disruptions.

³The combination of hot and cold weather has prevented harvest from gaining momentum and going at 100 miles an hour but overall I think we¹ve got through it quite well.²

Mr Tutt said the most challenging issue to manage this harvest had been the complexity of grain ownership, which caused difficulties with grain storage and transfers.

³Logistically it has been extremely difficult to support this harvest with ownership of grain being one of the key issues,² he said.

³Not knowing who owns the grains has caused shipping and storage issues with most growers undecided about which company they are transferring ownership to and decisions still being made about where grain needs to go and where it should be stacked, stored or sent to.²

Mr Tutt said cost tightening had been another key issue that had arisen during harvest, in particular for managing staffing resources and opening hours at delivery sites.

He said a revised budget had estimated costs at 7.5mt tones but that figure was now expected to be down by at least 1mt.

The dramatically reduced budget had caused an equal reduction in the provision of grain handling services and in particular the shortening of opening hours at many grain receival sites.

Many of the state¹s bins were forced to close due to the restricted budget and lower grain estimates which in turn forced growers to cart longer distances.

Mr Tutt said most growers had responded well to the challenge of restricted services despite the inconvenience it had caused to their individual carting programs. He accepted some growers had found it necessary to voice their complaints.

Mr Tutt said the debate over AWB¹s management of the single desk had also created its challenges at delivery points but did not elaborate on any specific incidents.

The drought would cost CBH between $90-100 million in revenue but warned its impact on spending for capital works projects was yet to be determined.

³The board will sit down and review the season and determine what will be available to spend on capital works in future once we know the final figures are,² Mr Tutt said.

³It¹s on a knife¹s edge at the moment but we are going hard to shut down harvest ahead of schedule, save some valuable dollars and finish with a good result financially.²

Mr Tutt said growers had responded well to the Harvest Mass Management Scheme and had started to accept that the program was designed to work in everyone¹s best interests.

Main Roads had examined the scheme up close with a harvest visit to Wheatbelt farms and bins and planned to use the experience to make recommendations on the scheme soon.

Mr Tutt said production in the Esperance zone had dropped off dramatically in recent months and would now struggle to produce 1.4mt after it was predicted to haul in a near record 2.2mt in early August.

The Geraldton zone¹s horror run also continued, having so far collected 406,000t which was well down on its normal 2.6 to 2.7mt, and much lower than the 700,000t predicted in early August.



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