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The UWA Institutes of Agriculture discusses deregulation of wheat industry

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Deregulation of Australia’s wheat industry, and its effects on wheat growers present and future, was the subject of debate at the recent 2011 University of Western Australia (UWA) Institute of Agriculture (IOA) Industry forum.

The UWA IOA industry forum had attracted farmers and other industry stakeholders who were all keen to hear and challenge speakers on the subject, which included ex-AWB Manager and respected Crop Forecaster, Ron Storey.

Storey noted that post-deregulation, Australian wheat growers had proved to be savvy sellers despite having to deal with a price volatile market. He was adamant that growers should work hard to ensure they own the data gained by bulk handlers at the weighbridge and recevial points.

Bryce Banfield, representative of CBH, said deregulation had allowed growers to network with CBH and had also allowed differentiation for WA grain. Although grain pools still had a place for the next 5-10 years, Banfield agreed that a pool transparency needed to be lifted.

Nathan Cattle, UWA Agricultural Science 1st Class Honours graduate, suggested price volatility was not a direct function of deregulation. Cattle advised growers to question service providers by always asking them to convince them that their service or offer would have a direct benefit.

John Orr of Premium Gran Handlers admitted that a post-deregulation market was stretching his company’s resources and facilities, although the prospects of a new port at Kwiana was likely to improve the situation.

Rod Birch, Coorow farmer and regular participant of UWA IOA events, was candid in his views that growers were delighted that grain traders, in a deregulated market, were “climbing over themselves to get a share of our business” and that choice could be as complicated or as simple as the grower chooses to make.

In conclusion to the debate, Professor Ross Kingwell, WA Department of Agriculture and Food Economist, and UWA School of Agriculture and Resource Economics Professor, said he saw a great window of opportunity as the next few years were likely to be positive for the WA wheat industry.

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