• Loddon Herald

Grain industry needs transparency: Baldwin

With more thann six million tonnes of grain grown across the electorate of Mallee and almost 7 billion tonnes during the 2021/22 season Sophie Baldwin, independent candidate for Mallee believes the grains industry deserves more than lip service from Government.

In a statement today, Ms Baldwin said:

“It is one of Mallee’s biggest industries and yet it is being held back by a lack of transparency, high input costs and a lack of willingness within Government to listen to grower needs.

For years organisations representing grain growers such as Grain Growers Ltd and the State Farming Organisations through Grain Producers Australia, have been calling for the government to instruct the ACCC conduct a review of the Australian grains industry.

While the Government has supported reviews of the red meat, dairy and horticultural industries and subsequent actions to address the identified problems inhibiting competition and impacting farmers, the requests for a grains industry market review have been ignored.”

As independent member for Mallee I would advocate for and support a grains industry market study. It is clear that since deregulation the grains industry has been left without any of the mechanisms required to ensure a flourishing competitive market able to take advantage of supplying 10% of international trade.

To continue producing grain we need local manufacturing of green fertilisers, pest and weed control options and internet connectivity to support market development. Ignoring a major agricultural industry is just not good enough.

Privatisation of port infrastructure led to a 63% increase in charges, these all end up being paid by grain farmers.

Australian grain growers pay some of the highest grain transport and handling costs in the world and yet can access only limited information about their own industry.

Ongoing grain trader insolvencies, phoenix companies and poor payment terms are not resolved by the current grains industry code of conduct. The voluntary code, managed by the post farm gate sector has not prevented a number of high-profile insolvencies for grain traders, at a significant loss for the grains industry. Estimates for Victoria alone are $100s of millions in lost earnings since 2008.

Grain growers know what is needed, they need to be listened to. I will support their call for an ACCC led market study.

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