GCA slams quitters

23 Aug, 2007 07:00 PM
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THE Grains Council of Australia (GCA) says its efficiency levels have improved dramatically since WAFarmers and the NSW Farmers Federation (NFF) elected not to renew their membership to Australia¹s peak representative grains body, following a bitter split earlier this year.

Deep divisions surfaced in February between GCA and its state farming group members over wheat marketing, and in particular the staunch positions adopted by WA and NSW over the single desk.

The disunity led to WAFarmers carrying a vote of no confidence in GCA¹s leadership group at its annual conference before opting not to renew their subscription.

GCA membership is now smaller but it has retained the services of its members from the Queensland, Victorian and South Australian farm lobby group¹s grains councils.

The Wheat Export Marketing Alliance (WEMA) was created because of the division, formed by the state farming organisations to handle the single desk issue exclusively and take the views of Australian wheat growers to Canberra.

Recently, GCA chairman Murray Jones told Farm Weekly his organisation had achieved almost nothing during the past two years but had increased its efficiency levels by more than 75pc since handing over the wheat marketing portfolio to WEMA.

Mr Jones said removing the burden of wheat marketing had allowed GCA to pay closer attention to research and development, bio-security, market access, world trade and quarantine issues.

He said GCA was now less restricted and able to provide a more immediate response in those areas because staff had more spare time and resources to allocate in other areas.

Mr Jones said the new-look GCA was now able to concentrate on the highly technical and often unplanned for activities associated with quarantine and disease risk management of grain production and transportation, such as the recent outbreak of the potentially devastating Khapra beetle detected in a sea container delivered to WA from Scotland in April.

It can now also spend more time building relationships with its other key industry partners such as the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Australian Quar-antine and Inspection Service, Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Autho-rity and the Federal Agriculture Depart-ment.

Mr Jones said the state farming organisations which continued to hold dual membership on WEMA and GCA were happy to separate grain marketing from other industry functions.

He said WEMA and GCA were now able to concentrate with greater focus on their specific tasks.

³For the past 30 years since I can remember GCA has been divided by state rivalries and politics, mainly caused by the extent of the division in wheat marketing views,² Mr Jones said.

³Our membership could never reach a consensus on anything to do with wheat marketing because each state had a different view.

³Any progress that we did make became bogged down because of the wide range of views that existed.

³Everyone was mainly in support of a single desk marketing structure but things came unstuck ‹ those views always got caught up in the detail.

³Because of the split, and WEMA¹s formation to focus on wheat marketing, both groups can now concentrate on getting on with the immediate jobs before them.

³GCA takes care of a wide range of issues that effect the industry and can look after the well-being of all grains, not just wheat.²

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