Better stocks information critical to grower marketing

Gregor Heard
By Gregor Heard
April 5 2022 - 5:00am
MORE INFORMATION: Grain Growers chairman Brett Hosking is calling for more stocks information to be released to growers.

GROWER groups are calling for more analysis on the benefits for the production sector of more stocks information, including data on crop quality.

Grain Producers Australia has been lobbying government for a wider Australian Competition and Consumer Commission review of the current port access code to include all grain.

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A key component of their request has been calls for more transparent stocks reporting.

"Growers are price takers and therefore vulnerable supply chain participants," said Grain Producers Australia chairman Barry Large.

"There's an ideal opportunity to engage resources that are at the government's disposal, such as the ACCC, this way we can get ahead of these issues, to safeguard growers and optimise competition in the Australian grain market."

Grain Growers chairman Brett Hosking said he believed having more information available would benefit the industry as a whole.

"It's not just the growers it is others apart from the bulk handlers in the trade as well," Mr Hosking said.

"Some people will definitely use the information, others may not, but if it is there then people have the option to use it if they wish."

"An open and transparent flow of information can better help people tailor their marketing program, as opposed to the current situation where people are making 'guesstimates' about what they think is happening in terms of supply and demand."

Mr Large also said he saw stocks information as important.

"The appropriate level of stocks information needed for the market to function effectively, and the independence and timing of reporting that information to the market, is an example of a lingering issue that remains unresolved.

Mr Hosking agreed with Mr Large that the time was ripe to investigate potential positive reform for the industry.

"We haven't had a good look at reform since deregulation of the wheat industry.

"The only way you can clearly see what has worked and what hasn't is through experiencing it, we now know what aspects are going well and what we potentially need to look at."

Mr Large said identifying gaps in the supply chain would create a more robust industry in the long run.

"We need this high-level analysis to identify investment opportunities - public and private - to ensure the Australian grains supply chain is fit for purpose, and designed to meet projected growth targets for not only grain growing regions, but supply to key customers such as grain exporters, millers and livestock feeding agents," he said.

Mr Large said one of the first changes he would make in terms of stocks information was to ensure it was timely and independent.

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"The level of market power held by major bulk grain handlers who also sell and market grain - and the influence of this market power over other participants such as second and third-tier bulk handlers, is another issue that's also causing ongoing concern," Mr Large said.

He said with more timely and accurate stocks reporting farmers would be more confident to use value adding marketing products such as derivatives, which have been underutilised by a production sector concerned about sudden turns in the market that leave them exposed.

"We believe these types of grain marketing products and services can be improved with better quality, independent market information and transparency; especially the timing and reporting of stocks information."

For their part, the leading bulk handlers have said they only believe a stocks information system would work if all those holding grain, including growers with on-farm storage, were required to participate, saying it would be a flawed system if the scheme just centred on the major grain receivers.

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Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

National Grains Industry Reporter

Gregor Heard is Fairfax Ag Media's national grains industry reporter, based in Horsham, Victoria. He has a wealth of knowledge surrounding the cropping sector through his ten years in the role. Prior to that he was with the Fairfax network as a reporter with Stock & Land. Some of the major issues he has reported on during his time with the company include the deregulation of the export wheat market, the introduction of genetically modified crops and the fight to protect growers better from grain trader insolvencies. Still involved with the family farm he is passionate about rural Australia and its people and hopes to use his role to act as an advocate for those involved in the grain sector. Away from work, he is a keen traveller, having spent his long service leave last year in Spain learning the language.

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