Single desk battle casualty

21 Aug, 2002 10:00 PM
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AWB Ltd's decision to set up in competition against CBH could sound the death knell for the single desk, WA farmers have warned.

The US is already increasing pressure on the Federal Government to abandon single desk marketing, and has lobbied the government directly. Some farmer groups believe the US will try to use the World Trade Organisation to dismantle Australia's sole international wheat marketing tool.

A big percentage of WA growers are still in favour of single desk but could withdraw their support if AWB undermines the value of CBH.

"If a war is going to break out between AWB and CBH, WA growers would be tempted to call for an end to single desk," said one grower, who did not want to be named.

"It would be grower money used to fight grower money.

"AWB Ltd has made a billion dollars profit out of its trading division and it is reinvesting it into the supply chain in the eastern states and now in WA.

"It is spending growers' money to duplicate services.

"It will pinch CBH business. It will drive costs up and devalue an asset owned by WA growers.

"I think it should be pointed out very clearly that it is in AWB's best interests to work in with CBH, or it is likely to lose all support.

"There is a lot at stake. We are second or third in the world when it comes to exporting wheat and it is a very important market that international conglomerates want to capture."

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