Call it a day, GLA

23 Aug, 2007 07:00 PM
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A NOMINEE for the initial board of the Grains Licensing Authority (GLA) says it is time for the body to be abolished.

Gairdner grower Ian Peacock says he has had enough of political involvement in grain marketing and claims the shackles should now be lifted.

Mr Peacock was short-listed to the GLA board when it was established in 2002, and also had input into the GLA¹s establishment, speaking to Minister for Agriculture Kim Chance who directed its implementation.

At that time, he also made a presentation to the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) Western Graingrowers, who nominated him for the original GLA board.

But growers have had enough experience using the system and it¹s time to graduate and move towards a free market situation and the GLA was now well and truly past its use by date, Mr Peacock told Farm Weekly last week.

³The establishment of the GLA was only ever meant to be an interim measure towards deregulation,² he said.

³It¹s now five years since its establishment and I don¹t think anyone can say that the issuing of licences has been detrimental to farm gate returns or Grain Pool¹s capacity to do business.

³It has now become a cash cow for government.

³The GLA is holding down prices by not issuing enough licences and for a long enough period, this protects the grain pool and puts a ceiling in the market.²

Mr Peacock said the GLA system had brought many benefits to WA growers, including greater competition, higher prices, increased transparency, greater choice and pool benchmarking.

He said a number of licences had been granted since the introduction of the GLA, with the interest in WA grain and increased competition resulting in WA growers receiving record high barley prices in two of its three years of operation.

³This year we had feed barley prices comparable to APW wheat prices for the third year in a row, in some way due to the strong demand from various competitors,² he said.

Mr Peacock said one of the GLA¹s major benefits was the increased level of transparency and accountability which the Grain Pool now had to face.

He said WA growers had tried to obtain information on the Grain Pool¹s operations for a number of years without any luck.

³As a statutory organisation with monopoly power the Grain Pool had no incentive to provide it,² he said.

³One of the positive outcomes listed in an independent report of GLA, other than increased returns to growers and more product choice and options, was that WA growers were becoming better informed.

³With its operations under the microscope, Grain Pool has been forced to compete against licence holders to accumulate stock and their pool performance was benchmarked by the cash prices offered by other GLA marketers.

³Numerous reports have shown growers who sold to special licence holders have been better off than those that have pooled their barley.²

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