Experienced Dempster seeks another term

Experienced Dempster seeks another term


INCUMBENT CBH deputy chairman Vern Dempster has urged growers to vote for experience ahead of this year's member director elections.

Vern Dempster has been a member of the CBH board for nine years.

Vern Dempster has been a member of the CBH board for nine years.

INCUMBENT CBH deputy chairman Vern Dempster has urged growers to vote for experience ahead of this year's member director elections.

Mr Dempster is seeking a ninth year on the CBH board and is up against Cunderdin farmer Stuart Mussared for the District 2 position.

The sheep and mixed-cropping farmer, who runs 4000 hectares of arable land near Southern Brook has been a CBH board member since 2008 and was elected as deputy chairman in 2013.

Prior to that he spent four years on the United Farmers Co-operative board and was WA Farmers Federation vice president.

Mr Dempster believes an experienced board will allow CBH to progress more efficiently in 2017.

"If you have experience you're in a better position to hold management to account and make a clear decision," he said.

"With an inexperienced board you're far more likely to be influenced by management - and that's not necessarily a bad thing but it's got to be aimed in the direction of what growers want, not necessarily what management wants."

Mr Dempster said he had implemented many valuable changes during his time on the board that had been beneficial for growers.

"The introduction of rebates has come about during my time at CBH and we've got great ambitions to try and get that up to $10 a tonne by 2020," he said.

"We bought the railway wagons and that's led to a 20 per cent reduction of freight rates and we also introduced online services such as Loadnet and Quality Optimisation.

"We've delivered a lot of benefits, but we've got the capacity to deliver a lot more - that's what I'd like to get into."

Mr Dempster said the current board had shown great strength in overcoming a challenging 2016.

"We had a real success in defending CBH after the takeover attempt from the Australian Grains Champion (AGC), GrainCorp and Morrisons," he said.

"We've got a very valuable company that's working for growers and it's an asset that a lot of people would like to get a hold of - that's going to be an ongoing challenge."

On the back of a record WA harvest Mr Dempster said it was important for CBH to improve storage and handling facilities.

"Last harvest brought to light some of the deficiencies in the system - particularly in the western part of the Wheatbelt in the ability to take grain at an adequate pace," he said.

"The immediate challenge is looking at ways to expand our capacity and our firepower to take more grain, more quickly."

Mr Dempster said the wheels were already in motion to address weaknesses in the system, and drive down costs for growers.

"We've established a Network and Engineering committee to oversee improvements in spending efficiency and an improved and ongoing board review of the network strategy, to ensure CBH keeps pace with the growth in production," he said.

"We've also initiated a drive to save $25 million in administration and up to $22m in procurement.

"It will be a big improvement - I think it will make sure we place our punches better and it should pave the way for big increases in rebates.

"The name of the game is to get the grain from the farm onto the ship and into the market in the most efficient possible way - that's our business and we've got to do that better."

The deputy chairman believes the future was bright for CBH, with many exciting opportunities on the horizon.

"We've bought Blue Lake Milling and we see there's a potential to value-add there and have oats as a major crop in WA.

"At the moment Interflour is investing in a malt plant in Vietnam which is again going to create a market for our barley and if that works, there is potential for expansion.

"We're also in the process of putting in a flour mill in the Philippines which will be a good home for WA wheat."

Mr Dempster welcomed the challenge from Mr Mussared, but had some concerns.

"If growers vote for me they're voting for experience, and as a board member that's really one of your strongest assets."


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