THE DECISION by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to grant Manildra an import permit to bring Canadian wheat into Australia highlights the need for a better stocks reporting system according to the chairman of NSW Farmers' grains committee.
Matthew Madden, who farms at Moree in NSW's north, said the whole premise from a commercial point of view behind Manildra's decision to ask for a permit to bring in the wheat was that there was no suitable grain available in Australia.
However, he said this could not be accurately verified.
"Manildra says it can't get the grain it wants, which is high protein wheat, other people are saying there is that higher grade of wheat available but we really don't know as there isn't the information out there," Mr Madden said.
"From a grower perspective, we understand it if wheat has to be brought in as there are no other options, but we'd prefer there not be imports if there was the wheat that could be sourced locally.
"With current systems there is very little concrete information around, meaning things operate on rumour rather than fact.
"Many growers have been in touch with us in light of this import decision expressing their concern and I truly understand their anger and frustration.
"If we had better protocols regarding stocks reporting then Manildra could clearly point to wheat levels and say that it needs to bring the wheat in and I think growers would be satisfied, but at present that is not the case.
"Growers are worried this import may just be used as a means to keep a cap on domestic prices."
He said he wanted to see a reporting system where there was a large amount of certainty about what grain was where, which he said would help the trade as well as growers to ascertain fair values for grain.
"Rumours do not equal grain stocks. As growers, we should know at any time and with a reasonable degree of certainty what quality and quantity of grain exists in Australia, and its location," he said.
Mr Madden called on the newly elected Morrison Government to implement a compulsory grain stocks reporting system, saying previous voluntary codes had not worked.
DAWR issues import permits on the basis of the applicants meeting relevant biosecurity protocols. National supply and demand is not a factor in the decision making process.