OFFICIALS from the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) remain united in their desire to see improvements in grain transport logistics, saying inefficient transport supply chains remain the major post-farmgate cost for farmers.
Ross Johns, VFF grains group president, said he welcomed news that Victorian rail authority V-Line would lift operational bans which last season prevented grain trains from running when the temperature was in excess of 33 degrees.
“It is good news, realistically the government is asking us to compete on the global market and we need to improve our supply chain as part of that.”
However, he said more work was needed.
“Even though the bans have been lifted, there are still large portions of track with 15 kilometres an hour speed limits on them and that obviously creates significant inefficiencies.”
Mr Johns said grain movement needed to be looked as a whole, rather than just a focus on rail.
“We can see higher productivities when vehicles such as B-Triples are allowed and I think larger trucks can play a role in easing the pressure on rail,” he said.
“One thing I think is important is that the road network is good enough, in many cases the farming community pays a lot of money in registration and council rates, yet we don’t necessarily get the service, in this case a functional road, we pay for.”
Changes to Victorian heavy vehicle regulations, which allow wide, longer and taller vehicles on the road, have been welcomed.
The state regulator VicRoads has worked together with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to specify that in grain growing regions of the state vehicles can now measure up to 5 metres high and 6.5 metres wide and combined with a towed implement, 35 metres long with the implement permitted up to 15 metres long.
In terms of grain freight, VFF vice president Brett Hosking said moving grain remained one of farmers’ major costs.
“The costs, whether it is road or rail transport or bulk handling are the biggest expense for growers and we know it can be done better.”
“I’m not an expert on the best ways to improve the supply chain, but every dollar that is invested in grain logistics offers a real benefit.”
David Jochinke, VFF president, said the V-Line situation was an improvement on last year, but added it was still not optimal.
“Hopefully the upgrades that are flagged can improve the rail network, investment is needed to get these improvements through,” he said.