Wheat growers concern simmer

26 Nov, 2003 10:00 PM
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A MOVE to force a shareholder vote to provide greater transparency between AWB Ltd and AWB International will depend on the outcomes of a meeting between the Wheatgrowers Association and AWB Ltd on Friday.

Association chairman Bob Iffla said the groups had met several times already this year, and the meeting in Melbourne was the last before a decision was made to put the amendments forward at AWB's 2004 annual general meeting in March.

"We are trying to save wheatgrowers up to $9 per tonne," Mr Iffla said.

"We hope these concerns can be resolved amicably and take away the need to put further resolutions forward."

He said the association almost forced a shareholders vote on amendments to the AWB constitution earlier this year.

But the amendment was deferred to give AWB more time to demonstrate the national pool was delivering the best possible outcome to wheatgrowers.

"We were concerned the national pool was being forced to deal only with AWB Ltd when it came to sourcing services," he said.

"The proposal in 2003 to amend the AWB constitution was intended to make it very clear there is an obligation on the AWB board to operate pools for the benefit of wheat producers more than investor interests."

Mr Iffla said the association wanted the issue resolved before the end of the year and wanted to continue negotiations with AWB on a range of issues including transparency, cost-effectiveness and disaggregated cost of pool services throughout 2004.

He encouraged wheatgrowers to become more active in the industry and join the association.

Meanwhile, the association has appointed recently retired Co-operative Bulk Handling and Grain Pool senior executive Peter Wells as a part-time executive officer.

"Peter's in-depth knowledge of the grain industry, through the Grain Pool and CBH as well as family who are grain producers, is what the association needs as it prepares to tackle an extensive list of issues in 2004," Mr Iffla said.

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