Grass Patch agrees to QA harvest

24 Aug, 2006 07:00 PM
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CO-OPERATIVE Bulk Handling's (CBH) quest for quality has been given a boost with Grass Patch growers striking a unanimous agreement with CBH to implement a Quality Assurance (QA) scheme during this season's harvest.

Also known as Better Farm IQ, the QA scheme has been a hot topic of discussion among growers concerned that they are being legislated out of existence.

Under the scheme CBH will pay premiums for growers accredited to Better Farm IQ.

The increase in compliance measures for food safety standards, however, is meeting resistance from many growers who believe the quest for cleanliness is killing the industry because of the increased labour required to conform to compliance measures.

CBH grain operations general manager Colin Tutt said it was important for growers to understand the market benefits of managing improved standards for grain products.

"We don't buy diesel with water in it and we don't accept fertiliser with grain in it on the farm," he said.

"The same expectations are attached to customers who buy our grain."

Mr Tutt said CBH was using QA to improve quality standards and protect premium export markets.

"When the time comes for the customer to choose between two products for the same price but one is QA then that is the real test," Mr Tutt said.

Grass Patch growers agreed to create the first QA only grain receival site in Australia at a recent meeting with CBH management.

CBH has been seeking grower support to create the world's first HACCP-certified supply chain.

HACCP Australia is a leading project management company that designs, implements and manages food safety programs for organisations in the food and food-related industries.

HACCP Australia Food Safety Accreditation endorses products' food safety excellence for use within a HACCP-based food safety program.

Mr Tutt said he was greatly encouraged by the attitude of Grass Patch growers for the introduction of a QA only site at the Grass Patch receival point this harvest.

"Our long-term aim is to establish fully quality assured sites throughout the state, to meet the increasing demand for quality assured grain from our international customers and create benefits for all growers by reducing the loss of services and storage capacity associated with QA segregations," Mr Tutt said.

"We received strong support for this concept from a number of areas throughout the state, however, Grass Patch growers are the first to take up this challenge.

"These growers have clearly shown a strong understanding of the need for a change to the way we all manage quality assurance and we commend them on their forward thinking and for taking the initiative with both hands.

"This is a significant step for growers and the CBH Group and provides a great opportunity for Grass Patch growers to help create the first QA bin in the nation."

Mr Tutt said part of this process would involve training and educating growers in the Grass Patch area under CBH Group's Better Farm IQ system.

The system was introduced by CBH in 2004 to provide the industry with a tool to manage risks and uncover tangible benefits and efficiencies.

Under the system, growers benefit from better control and management of quality assurance on-farm and throughout the supply chain.

They are also rewarded with a 50c/t "risk repayment" on their storage and handling charges and, for deliveries to Grain Pool and AgraCorp, an additional 25c/t.

Management of quality assurance throughout the supply chain, and the introduction of QA only sites, will allow growers to secure and maintain their existing markets and potentially opens the way for new market opportunities.

Mr Tutt said Grass Patch had encouraged other growers around the state to improve quality assurance throughout the supply chain.

Last harvest Grass Patch received 181,185t of grain made up of 60,000t of barley and 120,000t of wheat.

CBH envisages that Grass Patch will have more than 185,000t of quality assured grain available this harvest.

Grass Patch grower Geoff Sanderson said it was not a difficult decision to make because his farm was already accredited to a QA scheme.

Mr Sanderson said the decision would mean Grass Patch would help increase the supply of quality in the supply chain.

He expects the rest of the state to follow suit.

"Most everyone that is producing grain is already doing the right thing, but in the end they will have to adopt QA anyway," Mr Sanderson said.

"I have put my hand up to be counted by taking more responsibility for the quality of my grain.

"We have all the records in place to show we haven't cut any corners or bent any rules.

"This will help prove to customers that we have a quality product."

Mr Sanderson said the adoption of QA would help maintain market share because of a better standard of product.

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