Don't change test weight: GTA

21 Mar, 2013 01:00 AM
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AUSTRALIA’S grain lobby groups continue to stand firmly against Grain Trade Australia’s proposed increase in wheat test weights, repeating their claims that they did not believe GTA’s claims the change was necessary to protect Australia’s reputation for quality grain.

GTA has repeatedly said the rise in test weight, from 74 kilograms a hectolitre to 76kg/hl is required to meet market requirements.

However, grower organisations such as the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) grains group and Grain Growers (GGL) have said the only thing the change will do is make the trade more money at expense of farmers.

Outgoing VFF grains group president Andrew Weidemann questioned why the receival standards had to be altered when the matter of satisfying international end users had to do with out-turn standards.

“There have always been different receival and export standards, and buyers put together blended parcels of grain and met specifications easily, there is no evidence to suggest there is a need to change.”

A motion at this week’s VFF grains conference in Mildura to oppose GTA’s plans was carried easily.

“We are worried this is just the thin end of the wedge – where will it stop – will we need 80kg/hl just to make milling wheat segregations?” a speaker from the floor said.

And it appears not even all GTA members are pleased with the proposed changes, with a perceived split between the bulk handler marketers, who have stack information and can blend grain easily and those without stack information.

GrainCorp supply chain and logistics general manager Nigel Hart confirmed his company did not support the changes.

“We support the test weight staying the same at 74kg/hl, we don’t see the need for change.”

Meanwhile, a GGL survey found 97 per cent of growers opposed the increase in test weight.

GrainGrowers’ grower engagement general manager Michael Southan said growers will be adversely affected by any changes to test weight.

“Our data from the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons shows that in both seasons at least 17 per cent of growers’ wheat samples did not make 76 kg/hL test weight."

GGL called for a more open dialogue with GTA on the issue.

Groups have been invited to lodge submissions with GTA on the issue, however the crowd at the VFF conference was pessimistic on the effectiveness of lobbying GTA, many saying they felt GTA was committed to pushing the weight rise through.

GGL called on GTA to meet with growers to allow the production sector to provide direct verbal input on the issue.

FarmOnline
Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media

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