LONG-standing farmer disgruntlement over barley standards has again bubbled to the surface, with Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman Andrew Weidemann saying a change in the pricing structure of barley is required to maintain barley hectares across the country.
Mr Weidemann said growers remained unhappy with the situation where barley delivered as feed quality was later sold by grain marketers internationally as food grade.
“It has been going on for years, but farmers have become fed up with seeing grain they are being paid feed values for being used for food or malting purposes,” Mr Weidemann said.
He said if the situation did not change farmers may look to other cereal options.
“Barley is a good rotational choice in many farming zones but the farmers are jack of not getting the full return for their product,” he said.
However, Grain Trade Australia (GTA) chief executive Pat O’Shannassy said pricing already reflected the potential for higher value usages.
“The price on offer for what farmers deliver as feed includes a premium which acknowledges the grain could be used either as food grade or as malt barley in some less quality conscious markets,” Mr O’Shannassy said.
He said GTA was discussing renaming feed barley as general purpose barley to better reflect usage patterns.
Mr Weidemann said the issue was more than just semantics around the name and said vagaries of standards made it difficult for farmers to maximise returns.
“There is no doubt there is money to be made in blending barley which is virtually of malt quality but just fails one standard and other grain and selling that as malt, we feel there are opportunities in the food grade barley space that growers are missing out on,” he said.
“The trade says the Feed One price is reflective of the food market but we don’t feel it is.
“At least we would like to see more classifications for food/high quality feed lines that allow us to store that higher grade grain on-farm and market it as such rather than simply having to sell it at feed values.”
Mr Weidemann said his organisation was also looking at inconsistencies between in-turn and out-turn specifications.
“The standards we deliver against are different when the marketers out-turn the grain, which of course reflects what their customers want, but we want to be closer to what those customers want in order to better market our own grain.”