Weary Wagin growers

27 Feb, 2002 10:00 PM
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By SHANNON BARRACLOUGH

WAGIN graingrowers fed up with Cooperative Bulk Handling's excuses about why it cannot build a new bin have taken action.

After five years of pinning their hopes on hollow promises from CBH that a new grain storage facility will be built, a public meeting was held where they again stated their case.

Nearly 80 Wagin graingrowers gathered in the golf club last week to protest against CBH's lack of action to build more storage at the strategic Wagin receival site.

Last harvest about 26,000t of grain passed the Wagin bin and had to be carted to port or elsewhere because segregations were full or unavailable. In the previous two years it was 7000t.

Wagin graingrower Malcolm Edward said a commitment was made by CBH five years ago when growers applied for extra storage.

Mr Edward said growers had waited patiently until now and wanted a commitment in writing.

Primarily a wheat grower, the extra segregations for coarse grains were the problem for Mr Edward.

West Wagin farmer Nigel Drayton's gripe was turnaround time.

When Warup, the nearest bin, closed after it reached capacity, Wagin was unable to handle the overflow.

"The turnaround time took from 7am to 10.20am," he said.

"We are fed up.

"It was total chaos this year."

He said he had had enough of being told Wagin would be "next on the list, next year".

"Australia is supposed to produce quality grain, if it stays out in the paddock it is in the hands of the gods," he said.

"I feel we are snookered."

At one time noodle wheat growers had to cart to Darkan and Williams and could only deliver two loads per day.

This caused congestion at both bins and grower angst.

CBH operations general manager Colin Tutt admitted the company was under resourced for the 2001/02 harvest.

CBH set up resources for an 8.9mt crop, which turned out to be the fourth biggest on record at 10.4mt.

"Harvest performance was a real concern for us," he said.

"We struggled all the way home."

Mr Tutt said there were problems with logistics in rail, it was the lowest shipping out-turn ever and the crop out-yielded expectations.

He admitted Wagin's infrastructure had served growers well five years ago but was now very tired and needed upgrading.

Even so, he could not guarantee Wagin would be at the top of the capital works list next year.

"The same situation exists in many other sites across the state," he said.

However, he gave his commitment to put together a better package for Wagin in time for next year's harvest.

The reasons given for the slow upgrade progress were difficulty in site selection, land purchase, native title claims, and salt and rising water table problems ‹ reasons some growers at the meeting saw as excuses.

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