Newman re-elected unopposed to CBH board

12 Jan, 2017 02:00 AM
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CBH chairman Wally Newman will serve on the CBH board for the 17th consecutive year.
As efficiency improves, we hope to get the rebate up to $10 a tonne for growers by 2020.
CBH chairman Wally Newman will serve on the CBH board for the 17th consecutive year.

CBH chairman Wally Newman has been re-elected unopposed as the District 4 representative on the co-operative's member director board.

The Newdegate grower said he had mixed emotions about being re-appointed uncontested.

"I don't know whether I'm surprised or disappointed, because you lose the opportunity to go out and talk to all the growers, and tell them what your thoughts are and I enjoy that," he said.

After 17 years on the CBH board and more than two years at its helm as chairman, Mr Newman was hopeful most growers had an understanding of what he represented.

"I think by now most growers know what I stand for, but I think it's vital to keep in touch with the grassroots," he said.

Mr Newman said he had achieved significant improvements for CBH during his time on the board.

"We have reduced the freight rates by 20 per cent and that's pretty significant in this day and age," he said.

"Our developments with Quality Optimisation have enabled farmers to blend their grain online in order to save time and money.

"We've also introduced Loadnet, Grains Express, invested in fertiliser and lime, and established a CBH mobile app."

He said after a 2016 bumper harvest he was looking forward to new opportunities for CBH and its members.

"Last year we had over 16 million tonnes delivered to our system which was an all-time record," he said.

"We're hoping that allows us to pay a good rebate and still achieve the upgrades of sites.

"I'm hoping that as efficiency improves, we'll be able to get the rebate up to $10 a tonne for growers by 2020."

After the CBH Group's recent rejection of a takeover proposal by the Australian Grains Champion (AGC), Mr Newman planned to work towards making the current co-operative structure stronger in 2017.

"One of the main issues we focused on in our recent survey was tying up the equity in perpetuity, or mechanisms that make it harder to corporatise and there was a 70 per cent support for that Statewide - so that's one of the things that I'm keen to pursue in my next term."

He also planned to focus on efficiency, ensuring WA growers remain competitive.

"We have to make sure we make every inch of our supply chain as efficient as we can so that we can compete with places like Russia and the Ukraine that have huge capacity to produce grain," he said.

"We've got a system that is the envy of growers around the world - we just have to make it a lot smarter to get the very best dollar back to growers so they can compete.

"We're doing a lot of work on the network and we're in the first of a five-year program, so once that's complete we should have all the gaps filled and be achieving real benefits back to growers."

Mr Newman said developments in investment opportunities would produce further grower rewards.

"We're working on the oat mill at Forrestfield and that will be operational this time next year and it will be an interesting project that will hopefully create more demand for oats," he said.

"We've also got the malt house in Vietnam and that should be up and running by mid-year.

"The intention of our investments is not to use the growers' money of today - it's to borrow against the assets that have been put there by all the generations, to make investments generate more than they cost and make the assets work for the growers, so they're not just sitting there as lazy assets."

Mr Newman said he looked forward to working with the future elected board and hoped it would be as cohesive as the current board.

"I've seen a lot of very good boards in my time and really enjoy working with the guys and the management - they're all very passionate and I think it will be a very grower-orientated delivery because everyone is there to make better services and better prices for growers."

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