Single desk still haunts industry

It’s a fine line between ensuring a de facto monopoly does not open up

WE’RE five years or so into a deregulated wheat market, yet the spectre of the single desk still looms large over our industry.

So much of the system left behind still owes its origins to the monopoly that used to operate in Australia. With multiple exporters, its not surprising there is a need for change in many areas.

That’s why the decisions coming up are going to be crucial for the next century of wheat production in this country.

Things like stocks reporting, port access and even breeding need to be factored in to future policy.

The F=federal government’s mandatory code of conduct for port operators will soon be thrashed out – already the advisory committee formed to assist the government has made some recommendations.

It’s a fine line between ensuring a de facto monopoly does not open up, with those in control of the ports having disproportionate influence over the marketing sector and making sure that those doing the heavy lifting and investing in capital intensive hard assets are not unduly penalized.

For businesses such as GrainCorp, it’s a clear cut case – they are happy to ensure open access to their network to competitors, but feel the fact they have invested in the supply chain means they are entitled to hold a few trade secrets – such as stocks and quality information.

Growers, on the other hand, believe more transparent data would aid them in their own marketing program, but are split as to how much it would be worth.

Some even believe releasing too much data to the public would provide the trade with an added advantage and may even reduce marketing opportunities, but most believe having access to the same data as the bulk handlers would give them a clearer picture on when and how they should sell their grain.

Any new wheat marketing legislation will also have to ensure it does not encourage a cherry picking mentality among marketers.

With the majority of Australian grain now being sold to multi-nationals with the capacity for multi-origin purchases, there needs to be incentives to get them to invest in the Australian industry and try and maintain it as a brand, rather than simply another place to source a commodity.

There’s a lot to be done – not considering the fact we have barely touched on many issues such as breeding, industry good functions, and generic marketing of Australian wheat.

The urge is to rush through and ‘get something down’ – after endless rounds of talks it’s the natural impulse.

However, when we’re talking about creating a lasting framework for industry, its important to cross the Ts and dot the Is - so let's stay patient and hope the decisions made are what’s best for the industry.

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FarmOnline
Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first

READER COMMENTS

Love the country
27/03/2013 9:42:45 PM

Awb, should never have gone.......it's down hill ever since,and the numbers show it.
X
29/03/2013 2:22:28 PM

Stock info re unsold grower grain is the growers province.Fertiliser, chemical and Toyota etc do not provide stock info to potential grower purchasers, why should farmers provide?.How would you acquire stock info on on farm stored grain . get real!,
Jed
31/03/2013 8:03:52 AM

GPA is the driving force behind this stocks reporting now please consider this? GPA claims to represent 8% of the Grain grown in Australia yet it has less than 200 down to figures of around 50 members. That being the fact then GPA's members are only the biggest broad acre growers in Australia who are big enough to market and export their own Grain so it stands to reason that they would benifit from Stocks disclosure. It is of no benifit to the ranken file family farmer who are not members of GPA and rely on the likes of Graincorp to do their marketing for them. Enough said?
AAFM
1/04/2013 9:33:11 AM

Jed, I think u might mean "rank and file" rather than "ranken file" but at least we might now have a better idea of where your views originate! The days of GNC doing your marketing are over and indeed it was AWB in any event. If you want to grow grain you simply must play a more active role in marketing your own grain. The single desk was lost and with it some great benefits but it is gone and it is not coming back in the near future. Get hold of as much information as you can and facilitate the implementation of regulations to ensure you have ongoing access to it!
Farmer Joe
1/04/2013 10:09:17 AM

I have not seen GPA argue anywhere that growers should supply on farm grain stocks. The only thing I have seen suggsts that aggregated grain stocks in bulk handling systems be published for all to see. ASX wheat futures contracts are executed in this system and bulk handlers have access to inside information about these stocks positions. Jed you are being obtuse about GPA, it argued a position backed by SA, NSW, Qld, Vic and some of WA grower reps. GPA was the only body actually making sense of the issue in spite of the lies from PGA.
x
1/04/2013 11:40:54 PM

Joe' CBH Grain do not have access to CBH Ops grain stock info - ACCC provision. Suggest all read Peter Readings report re stock info- On farm stock info discussed.
ihs
4/04/2013 6:56:34 PM

hey x i am sure I just a pig flying over my farm
Grain of TruthRural Press grains writer Gregor Heard on the big issues facing the broadacre farmers today.

COMMENTS

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Nico on numerous occasions you bag on about following the money trail. Well perhaps you should
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We should pump as much CO2 out as we can - get sea levels rising as quick as possible - more
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Interesting that the mega Corporations like Coles, so vigorously fight for free and open markets