The Grain Growers Ltd (GGL) annual general meeting (AGM) on September 27 provides members the opportunity to reflect on the past year and question the benefits GGL delivered to its members.
With profitability front and centre for the coming harvest and with wheat prices hitting a new 10 year low, opportunities for GGL to play an important role in improving members bottom lines should be a significant priority.
Whilst it’s not possible for GGL to directly impact grain prices, it has a role to play in effecting change through government policy and sector groups in the areas of trade and market access (free trade agreements in particular) and improving supply chains.
Moreover, as a joint Representative Organisation (RO), GGL needs to ensure that Grain, Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) activities and investments meet levy payer’s objectives. All of these directly and indirectly impact a farmer’s hip pocket.
Key to the success of the new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) will be ensuring non-tariff barriers are addressed.
Recent examples in China where barley, sorghum and canola exports from Australia have been affected by non-tariff barriers highlights the need for prompt action.
The success of FTAs, lies squarely on the grain industry’s ability to affect supply chain alignment. There must be a unified focus on lowering supply chain costs, looking for higher value markets and increasing the overall demand for Australian wheat.
Failure to do so will see the opportunities from fast growing markets in Asia remain just that – opportunities, not reality.
With markets being opened up and tariffs reduced or eliminated, Australia’s grain supply chain must be addressed.
The inefficiencies and lack of investment can only be described as third world.
Australian farmers are the most productive and efficient producers but once the grain leaves the farm, efficiencies deteriorate swiftly. The antiquated rail network and the high cost that comes with it, is an ongoing issue eroding our geographic advantage into Asia.
The above issues I’ve highlighted are nothing new.
Critical to these issues being addressed is farm representation and the need for unification.
The National Farmers Federation (NFF) has outlined a clear direction for reforming farm representation under their “Streamline and Strengthen” project.
It is imperative that the grain industry must now become part of this with the peak bodies aligning with NFF’s restructure.
I’m not advocating GGL integrate into NFF, but it must assist and work with Grain Producers Australia (GPA) in establishing grain as a commodity arm under the restructure.
This will be the only way the challenges facing members will be addressed promptly. This will also allow GGL to focus on the “Industry Good” functions like promoting Australian grain, and trade and market access.
Brett Hosking and myself have worked closely together over the last three years as leaders of our respective state representative organisations.
This has given us both a great understanding of the challenges and importantly the potential solutions in addressing the issues. Paramount to the success and strength of the grains industry ongoing will be having organisations like GGL focused on members needs.
This is something we are both keen to address promptly if elected to the board.
* Daniel Cooper is running for a position as a southern zone director of GGL.