WESTERN Australian bulk handler CBH is getting tough on farmers breaching maximum residue limits (MRLs) with agricultural chemicals.
Citing a need to protect Australia’s reputation in the international market, CBH has implemented a new three-strikes policy to growers exceeding MRLs.
The company told growers they needed to be mindful both of not using chemicals off-label and of withholding periods to ensure there are no MRL breaches this season.
Fines and payment of testing fees will apply for the first two strikes, while the drastic step for a third strike would be a ban from delivering to the CBH network.
CBH has a virtual monopoly on upcountry storage in Western Australia, meaning a ban from its sites would make it extremely difficult for growers to market their grain.
Duncan Young, president of WAFarmers grains section, said his organisation supported the testing, but said he was seeking clarification on how the new system would work.
“We are quite happy for testing for MRLs and we support a push to stop farmers doing the wrong thing,” he said.
“We just want to see how it is administered and to ensure there is some discretion within the system.
“You want a system designed to catching those people blatantly flouting the rules.”
Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman Andrew Weidemann said he believed farmers were doing the right thing.
“I don’t think it is going to be a big problem, the results in terms of testing for MRLs show farmers are obeying the rules.”
The CBH system will work as follows:
Strike 1 – a level one contaminated load fee of $5,400 charged for each load delivered in breach and the new mandatory load testing fee of $1 per tonne will be charged on all deliveries in the following year.
Strike 2 – a level one contaminated load fee for every load delivered in breach ($5,400), a pre-delivery residue testing fee of $1.25/t to permit deliveries to CBH and the new mandatory load testing fee of $1/t to test every load delivered the following year, totalling $2.25/t for the second strike.
Strike 3 – level one contaminated load fee of $5,400 for each load delivered in breach and the grower will be banned from delivering grain to CBH.
The scheme is the first of its kind among Australia’s major bulk handlers.