Unfazed: growers look past potential barley tariff threat

Tamworth farmer Terry Blanch unconcerned by potential China barley tariff

Cropping News
CONFIDENT: Tamworth farmer Terry Blanch is unconcerned by the threat of a potential tariff placed on Australian barley by China. Photo: Peter Hardin 130520PHD025

CONFIDENT: Tamworth farmer Terry Blanch is unconcerned by the threat of a potential tariff placed on Australian barley by China. Photo: Peter Hardin 130520PHD025

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Tamworth farmer plants barley crop as scheduled despite threat of tariff from China.

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THE threat of a barley trading tariff from China has failed to deter one of the Tamworth region's leading farmers from planting his crop as scheduled.

Terry Blanch is committed to planting more than 300 hectares of barley, despite the prospect of lower prices from one of the country's major export markets.

The tariffs, which some experts believe could total up to 80 per cent, are a result of an 18-month anti-dumping and countervailing duties investigation.

However, the Winton farmer said he was unconcerned by China's potential restriction against barley imported from Australia.

"I guess it will be a bit of a price concern for everyone," Mr Blanch said.

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"However, all of my information suggests that there is nowhere near the amount of barley going into the ground than would normally go in.

"Sourcing seed has been a bit of a problem for a lot of people and while it isn't a direct result of this political stuff, it is a direct result of the drought."

Despite potentially being limited in export options, Mr Blanch said there was plenty of domestic buyers that could help fill the void.

"You've got all of the craft breweries in the market these days," he said.

"They're quickly becoming substantial buyers of malt barley and that's a new market away from the multinationals and away from things like that.

"That's only my opinion, but I feel as though what little barley is being planted will be snapped up elsewhere if China isn't really an option."

Pursehouse Rural agronomist Matt Roseby said farmers were exploring a variety of other cropping options in place of barley.

"There has been a few paddocks that have been swapped out of barley since the threat of the tariff and replaced by durum and chickpeas because there is better prospects in those two crops," Mr Roseby said.

"I know a few people will still go ahead with it because it very beneficial agronomically.

"However, there will still be quite a few people who will move away from it because of the concerns caused by the tariff."

The concerns over the barley export market come after China suspended four Australian meatworks for "technical breaches".

Joining Terry on the family farm at Winton is his son Scott, who said planting barley this season was always a part of their plans.

"There's a lot of benefits to planting barley and that's why it features as a third of crops this year," he said.

"It provides plenty of benefits to your soil and some really good weed protection for your other crops.

"We're not too far way from finishing up with planting, so hopefully it can continue to rain and we can have a good year.

"It provides plenty of benefits to your soil and some really good weed protection for your other crops.

"We're not too far way from finishing up with planting, so hopefully it can continue to rain and we can have a good year."

Many believe the Asian superpower is retaliating to Australia's call for an investigation into the origin of COVID-19, following thinly-veiled threats from Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye last month.

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"From what I understand, there will be a lot more wheat going in this year, which will hopefully act as a bit of a buffer [for barley producers] if these tariffs are introduced," Mr Blanch said.

"I think we are probably one of the last areas to plant barley, which we normally are anyway.

"Meaning, most of the barley is already in the ground but from what I'm hearing, barley is on the bottom end of the scale in terms of popularity among farmers.

"To me that means the year isn't going to be too big for barley anyway, so hopefully any move by China won't have too big an impact.

"However, when you see things like what happened with the meatworks, it is a bit concerning."

National Farmers Federation (NFF) president and Liverpool Plains farmer Fiona Simpson was concerned about disruptions to agricultural trade between Australia and China, and urged the two governments to resolve the issues quickly.

READ MORE: Processors stick to business in wake of China suspensions

"Two thirds of Australia's farm production is exported. Almost one third of this, 28 per cent, is exported to China, including 18 per cent of our total beef production and 49 per cent of our barley." Ms Simson said.

"However, we recognise in relationships as significant as that between Australia and China, from time to time, issues do arise.

"When they do, it is important that both parties work together in a respectful manner to, as soon as possible, resolve the challenge, to an end that is satisfactory to both."

Ms Simson said the NFF and the agriculture industry had "every confidence" in the government's ability to bring the issues at hand to a timely resolution.

- with Jamieson Murphy

The story Unfazed: growers look past potential barley tariff threat first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.

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