THE Grains Council of Australia (GCA) has warned that a decision about Australia¹s wheat export mark

30 Mar, 2007 08:45 PM
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Mr Jones said it was important that farm lobby groups looked to the future during the current wheat marketing debate and avoided dwelling on the past, in order to find alternatives and solutions.

³My message here is to not ignore younger farmers,² he said.

³If you do ignore them or shout them down, they will switch off and you will lose them as members or potential members.

³Young farmers need to be listened to and their contribution respected, because they are the future of the industry and the future of your organisation.²

Mr Jones said the Australian grains industry faced further disruption over wheat marketing.

The GCA was at the forefront of possibly the most important upheaval in the wheat industry since the end of compulsory acquisition in the late 1980s.

³As I¹ve said since the start of the Cole Commission of Inquiry, change is inevitable,² Mr Jones said.

³In fact we have already seen considerable change, with the granting of bulk export consents to Wheat Australia for the Iraq market almost a year ago and the amendments to the Wheat Marketing Act in December last year.

³It¹s a divisive subject but we have to work hard to find common ground.

³We have to be capable of focusing on the financial sustainability of grain producers.

³And we have to look to the future and not to the past for answers.²

Mr Jones¹ comments came as the Wheat Export Marketing Consultative Committee (WEMCC) prepared to present its recommendations about Australia¹s wheat marketing future to the Federal Government.

The WEMCC spent last month consulting industry, and particularly growers, about export marketing needs and will deliver its findings on March 30.

Mr Jones was not asked to speak at the WAFarmers annual grains conference this week but his views were supported by the local lobby group.

His views were backed by outgoing WAFarmers Grains Council president Robert Doney, who will be replaced by 62-year-old Derek Clauson at the WAFarmers conference.

Mr Clauson will be elected unopposed at the WAFarmers annual conference to become the fourth president of its Grains Council in the past 12 months.

Mr Doney said young growers who wanted to change the current wheat marketing system should be free to put forward their views uninhibited.

³I support the comments of Murray Jones 100pc,² Mr Doney said.

³We have to listen to what young farmers are saying because they are the future of our industry.

³If the younger generation wants to modify the selling system that we have in place at the moment, then they should say so and shout it loud, because they are the ones who will be using it when the older farmers have gone or retired.²

Mr Doney said WAFarmers had put forward its views to the WEMCC and was promoting an alternative model to the single desk arrangements.

³We couldn¹t go on existing with the current system the way it was because it was costing growers too much money,² he said.

³This model takes into account the views of all WAFarmers members, not just the older growers.²

WAFarmers grains council executive officer Julian Breheny said a lot of younger farmers supported the single desk but more appeared to be in favour of deregulation.

Mr Breheny said grains council was a democratic organisation that had a number of members under the age of 40 and took on a wide range of views in its decision-making processes.

He said members of varying ages had participated in the approval process of the council¹s alternative single desk model.

Mr Jones warned that the WEMCC, which held more than 20 meetings across the country and received around 1000 submissions, could not afford to ignore the views of young farmers when making its final report.

He said the definition of single desk was causing problems in the debate.

³We already know from comments made by WEMCC chairman John Ralph, that the majority of those submissions have supported a Œsingle desk¹,² Mr Jones said.

³We also know from a recent interview with Mr Ralph that an age divide appears to have emerged, with growers under 35 ­ the future of the industry ­ backing major changes to the way wheat is exported.

³An important point I want to make that is central to the debate on wheat marketing is the definition of single desk.

³That¹s one of the problems facing your representatives as we put views to the Federal Government.²

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