By CAMERON MORSE
A NATIONAL system designed to simplify grain receivals and payments was finally launched at the Grains Week conference in Melbourne last week.
After six years in the making and at a cost of more than $2 million, the National Grower Registration (NGR) scheme was adopted by grain giants AusBulk, Grainco Australia and GrainCorp.
But its launch was soured by the absence of several significant grain handling and marketing companies.
Australia's monopoly wheat exporter AWB is one company that has preferred to develop its own payment and delivery system, as announced last September.
"From AWB's perspective, the NGR, as it was developing, did not live up to its promise to speed payments and eliminate multiple cards," AWB sales and marketing general manager Tim Goodacre said in a press release last September.
But AWB's absence didn't detract from the launch ‹ and the NGR faithfull were quick to point out both AWB and ABB Grain (another company not involved with the scheme) may possibly use the NGR card in the future.
"If AWB and ABB Grain eventually join the NGR as we hope, it will fulfil the vision of ultimately having a one-point registration system," NGR chairman Ashley Roff said.
"Growers throughout the nation would need only one card, no matter where they did business or with whom."
WA bulk handling company CBH has also withdrawn from the scheme, saying it needed to concentrate on its merger plans with the Grain Pool of WA.
"However, CBH continues to support the concept and will work with NGR to develop a link between the CBH card number and NGR registration details to allow NGR registered traders and marketers to conveniently process the payment of grain purchases from WA growers," Mr Roff said.
Even without the participation of AWB, CBH and ABB Grain, the NGR will service 85pc of Australia's graingrowers and represents 95pc of bulk handling facilities in the eastern and southern states.
The NGR card, which becomes effective on September 1, will significantly reduce the number of identification cards required by more than 50,000 growers for delivery of grain to marketers and bulk handlers.
"Establishment of the NGR is a very significant step because it represents one of the few times that the grain industry has managed to come together and agree on something that will affect all graingrowers in Australia," Mr Roff said.
"The grain industry is currently going through a period of dynamic change, with deregulation resulting in highly competitive behaviour between grain companies. This has presented its challenges in getting NGR off the ground but the three partners have not lost sight of the ultimate value to growers and the industry generally in having a single registration system."
Development of a national registration system was mooted in 1996 and since then eight industry players have been involved at various times in formation of the unified scheme.
pMore information: freecall 1800 556 630 or visit the NGR website at www.ngr.com.au