More AWB uncertainty tipped

05 Jul, 2007 07:00 PM

DEREGULATION champions Leon Bradley and Gary McGill believe ongoing political interference in the wheat export industry will only inflict more uncertainty and torment on wheat growers this coming harvest.

Mr Bradley, the current Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) Western Graingrowers chairman, and Mr McGill, the former chairman and current PGA executive committee member, revealed their gloomy predictions while speaking to Farm Weekly during an exclusive on-farm interview last week.

Mr Bradley said he believed more growers would choose to warehouse their wheat this year in response to the harvest chaos, than in 2006 when up to 70pc of growers used the holding service while waiting for the dust to settle on the Cole inquiry.

Mr McGill said growers would face more uncertainty this year, and would be forced to warehouse their wheat while waiting to see if any bulk wheat export licenses will be approved.

He predicted this year¹s situation would only add to the feeling of anger and resentment felt by growers toward the Federal Government and various industry leaders.

Last year Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran was handed the power of veto over bulk wheat exports in response to AWB¹s involvement in the $290 million Iraqi wheat scandal.

But while more than 70 grain marketing companies applied for wheat export licences due to the legislative change that also saw AWB stripped of its power of veto over bulk wheat exports, only two companies were given the go ahead to export wheat from outside AWB¹s national pool.

Mr McGauran awarded CBH a licence to export 500,000t of wheat direct to its Asian flour mills last December, while Wheat Aus-tralia was permitted to export 300,000t to Iraq.

But with a little more than 4.2mt of wheat available for export due to last season¹s drought stricken crop, the remaining growers who warehoused their wheat in anticipation of a better deal, were forced to dump their produce into AWB¹s national pool, which collected 3.2mt.

Mr Bradley said what happened last harvest clearly demonstrated that growers had lost obvious confidence in AWB.

³No matter who your loyalties were with, it was obvious to everyone that AWB had lost almost all of its credibility last harvest,² he said.

³This is something farmers clearly understand now and they don¹t want to deliver their wheat to AWB anymore.²


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