VFF confirms concern over Lempriere Grain

VFF confirms concern over Lempriere Grain


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The VFF has confirmed it has been contacted by members concerned about slow / non payment for grain by Lempriere Grain.

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Farmers are contacting the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) with concerns about late payment from Lempriere Grain.

Farmers are contacting the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) with concerns about late payment from Lempriere Grain.

VICTORIAN Farmers Federation (VFF) president David Jochinke confirmed the organisation had been contacted by grain growers concerned about  not being paid for grain sold to Victorian-based grain buyer Lempriere Grain.

The Lempriere Grain team, which has its head office in Melbourne and its major grain-buying office in Ballarat, has gone to ground, with its phones not being answered and its website removed.

Mr Jochinke said the VFF was still trying to assess the extent of potential losses.

"It's certainly something that is on our radar and that we are watching closely, we're hearing there are some growers out there that may be owed significant sums of money," Mr Jochinke said.

"This serves as a reminder to growers that you really have to be vigilant about grain sales and keep an eye out for red flags, even though it can be sometimes hard to pick up the signals."

Mr Jochinke said the Lempriere Grain situation was difficult because it had become a well-established name in the Victorian grains landscape, especially in the Western District since it was first set up in 2003.

"It was a name that people had grown to trust, a solid second tier buyer that people had become comfortable with, so it is not just like it is a fly-by-night operation where people had reason to be suspicious."

He said the VFF had heard of non-payment to farmers that had either sold grain direct to Lempriere Grain and to brokers accumulating grain on Lempriere's behalf.

Lempriere Grain shares its distinctive name with other agribusinesses Lempriere Capital and Lempriere Wool, but is not involved operationally with either.

A tersely worded statement on the Lempriere Capital website said it was seeking to revoke Lempriere Grain's use of the name.

"Lempriere Grain uses the Lempriere name under a licence agreement," the statement read.

"Neither Lempriere Capital nor William Lempriere have any operational involvement whatsoever in Lempriere Grain.

"The directors of Lempriere Grain have been sent a notice of revocation of the licence agreement."

However while Lempriere Capital is not involved with the grain business, documents show that William Lempriere, a former director of Lempriere Grain who has since stood down from his directorship, owns two holding companies that have a 50pc stake in the business.

Starcom, a Singaporean business which owns the other 50pc of Lempriere Grain, has also recently decommissioned its website.

Fairfax Agricultural Media has been unable to contact Lempriere Grain or Starcom.

The business had an especially strong footprint through Victoria's west, including the Goldfields, southern Wimmera and Western District.

According to Grain Trade Australia (GTA) documents publicly available, Lempriere Grain was regarded as a B3 level member of GTA, the category for businesses dealing with between 250,000 and 500,000 tonnes of grain a year.

Victorian growers have felt the brunt of several high profile grain buyer insolvencies in recent years, including Convector Grain and River City Grains.

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