A MALLEE wheat farmer and long-term customer of GrainCorp has urged Treasurer Joe Hockey to allow the Australian company to be taken over by US corporation Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), saying it represents ''the chance of a lifetime''.
Chris Kelly said the proposed $3.4 billion takeover would be good for farmers, country communities and the Australian economy.
And Mr Kelly, who lives and farms in the Nationals' heartland of north-west Victoria at Woomelang, wants Nationals MPs to stop campaigning against the deal.
''It's an opportunity too good to miss,'' he said. ''Because ADM is one of the biggest global commodity trading companies in the world, they have a presence in 140 different countries.
''They're more than 100 years old, they're more than 10 times bigger than GrainCorp, so they're intimately well connected … that's the secret of 21st century trading. They can seamlessly move product.''
Just two months into the life of the new federal government, the ADM takeover bid for GrainCorp has sparked divisions between the federal Nationals (who oppose the sale) and their senior partner in the Coalition, the Liberals. Mr Hockey will decide by December 17 whether the $3.4 billion deal should go ahead.
Mr Kelly said ADM would invest large sums of money to improve infrastructure and grain-handling equipment, to make grain handling and the whole supply chain more efficient.
''They've promised to spend between $40 million and $60 million on infrastructure every year, bringing designated sites into the 21st century.
''This deal, it ticks a lot of boxes for the 21st century. And we're a big exporting country and we need the absolute best infrastructure and we need the best global connectivity and we need competition - this is the absolute imperative that underscores everything.''
GrainCorp had done well to invest money in infrastructure since the company was listed on the stock exchange in the late 1990s, but had been hamstrung by devastating droughts that had limited the company's ability to make capital improvements, Mr Kelly said.
He said he would not be a lone voice among farmers in favour of GrainCorp's sale to ADM. And he said one argument used against the sale - that it could be a risk to Australia's food security - was ''ridiculous''.
Asked if it was appropriate for another large Australian business to be taken over by a foreign entity, Mr Kelly said: ''What's appropriate is making the right decision in the interests of not only the stakeholders but all Australians.''
But the president of the grains group of the Victorian Farmers Federation, Brett Hosking, said that on current evidence the group opposed the sale.
He said that for months the VFF had repeatedly but unsuccessfully sought firm, written assurances from ADM on key matters of concern about how it would operate if it acquired GrainCorp.