WEMA funds rolling in

13 Nov, 2007 09:00 PM
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WHEAT Export Marketing Alliance deputy chairman Derek Clauson claim money has been rolling into its fighting fund during the past two months, but single desk critics remained unconvinced.

Mr Clauson last week said the alliance had received $210,000 from Australian wheat farmers since the fund’s campaign was launched in late August.

He would not say how many growers had donated or the number of individual contributions.

Mr Clauson said he was buoyed by the result and predicted the funds would continue flowing in from committed single desk supporters during the harvest.

Initial reports suggested that WEMA had gathered about $20,000 during the campaign’s first month, well short of the $2 million target quoted by the alliance in letters sent to growers on August 30 which asked them to commit funds to save the single desk by putting money in a voluntary trust account held by lawyers Kott Gunning.

The letter suggested individual contributions of up to $100 from growers whose annual production was less than 500t , $200 from those growing 500/t to 2000/t and $300 from farmers harvesting more than 2001/t.

Mr Clauson said if WEMA raised more than $1m it would prove there was staunch support for single desk marketing among the nation’s wheat growers.

However WEMA’s fighting fund plan has been scrutinised by many, including local grower groups who have urged their members to avoid making donations, describing it as a waste of both time and effort.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) executive committee member Gary McGill said the fund was a means test and the final amount which was received would indicate the true level of support growers had for single desk marketing.

PGA Western Graingrowers chairman Leon Bradley said the $210,000 worked out to less than $10 for each wheat grower, making it obvious the fund was suffering from a lack of support.

Mr Bradley said he was also disappointed the alliance had recently been given $250,000 of taxpayers’ money from Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran to put together an AusWheat business plan.

“This is merely what is to be expected from the current crony system that has been allowed to dominate the wheat industry,” Mr Bradley said.

“It is, however, an admission from WEMA that they cannot raise the funds from growers voluntarily and they have to extract money from taxpayers via their National Party protectors in government.

“This is the WEMA method of doing business.”

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