THE fledgling Wheat Growers Association (WGA), claiming to represent nearly 1000 A class AWB shareholders, scored a victory last week in talks with AWB Ltd executives.
Set up by Lake Camm farmer Bob Iffla in December, four association members ‹ including Mr Iffla as president ‹ and a lawyer were flown to Melbourne to discuss three resolutions the association had sent in for the AWB's March annual general meeting.
Subsequent discussion saw the motions withdrawn and a formal commitment from the AWB to address 30 points of concern from the association, including greater transparency of the national pools.
In what might be seen as good old-fashioned horse trading, AWB Ltd has committed to a process of consultation with the WGA and set a time frame to address all the association's concerns by October 15 this year.
If the AWB defaults, the WGA has the right to call a special extraordinary meeting of A class shareholders.
According to Mr Iffla, the association's motions were of a "complex nature" which he acknowledged may have contained unforeseen and unintended consequences for the operation of the single desk marketing system.
AWB chairman Brendan Stewart said the resolutions, if passed, would have had a negative relationship between the AWB Ltd and its subsidiary AWB International.
"It may have meant the splitting of the two organizations and it certainly would have inhibited flexibility," he said.
"It is to the credit of WGA that we were able to dialogue the matter through to avoid a lot of confusion.
"We have given a commitment to look at all of WGA's concerns and we are looking at further measures to resolve them."
According to Mr Iffla, the AWB had committed to meetings in March, June and September with the WGA to discuss progress of the AWB measures.
"AWB Ltd has taken us very seriously," he said.
"And while we have the ability to call a special shareholder meeting if ultimately we are not satisfied with the AWB's progress, I don't think it will come to that."
Mr Iffla said he was pleased with the response from farmers to joining WGA.
"We are a single focused organisation and we want to assist unrepresented A class shareholders to have a voice," he said.
"By the end of February, we hope to have 2000 shareholders as members of the association."