CBH lime business has impact

CBH lime business has impact


Agribusiness
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LOCAL transport carriers are furious at CBH's decision to stockpile lime at its Narrakine and Lake Grace sites, saying it will significantly hurt their business and could reduce their ability to cart at harvest.

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LOCAL transport carriers are furious at CBH's decision to stockpile lime at its Narrakine and Lake Grace sites, saying it will significantly hurt their business and could reduce their ability to cart at harvest.

CBH is continuing to supply up to 50,000 tonnes of lime to the two sites following a trial late last year as a way of reducing grain freight costs to growers in the area.

However, the decision has upset local carriers who say it cuts into their business and could have flow-on effects to local communities.

Fyfe Transport owner David Fyfe said lime haulage accounted for about 30 per cent of his business, allowing his team to move lime during the quieter period in January and February after harvest when farmers were taking a break.

Fyfe Transport employ seven full-time staff with an additional four staff during peak times.

Mr Fyfe said taking the lime delivery from local carriers threatened the viability of their businesses.

"We have been successfully carting lime for 10 years and to take this away from us will knock out a lot of smaller businesses,'' he said.

"This will also have an impact on harvest; as harvesting times get shorter, carriers can't keep specialist equipment or carry the overheads for what comes down to three good weeks of work at harvest.''

He said the flow-on would see families leaving country towns and less money spent in the community.

In addition, road traffic could double or even triple as farmers carted the lime themselves from the depot, often with little financial savings.

Grant Robins, Kulin Transport, echoed Mr Fyfe's views, saying that CBH's decision left a lot of uncertainty about the availability of work.

He also doubted the savings CBH could make on its grain freights, saying essentially it was "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

"The most frustrating thing is that we have trucks going straight past CBH that are empty when we could be moving lime or grain," he said.

"Where possible, we will work in with CBH's contractor, but it doesn't always work like that."

CBH commercial manager for operations Andrew Mencshelyi said the tonnes being stockpiled represented only 3pc of what is carted into the Wheatbelt.

"CBH are not taking all the lime; what we are stockpiling is only a very small amount of what is used and we cannot supply the whole district," he said.

"We have also been told by carriers that they couldn't keep up with the lime supply; CBH is trying to fulfil some of that demand."

He said local carriers still had a place in delivering lime, moving the lime from Narrakine or Lake Grace to the farmer.

According to CBH, a major advantage of the lime operation was the reduction in freight rates to growers in the Lake Grace and Narrakine areas and increasing the capacity for lime sand.

Research from the Department of Agriculture and Food indicates the annual use of lime is 40pc below the estimated amount required to effectively treat soil acidity, indicating there is an opportunity to increase lime usage.

Mr Mencshelyi said the trial also showed that growers were buying more lime when it was stockpiled locally, which was good for growers, transporters and overall farm production.

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