MOULAMEIN Grain Co-operative wants to set up a $15-million co-operative embracing three Wimmera locations.
The Swan Hill-based co-operative wants to buy Laharum Bulk Handling and Moore Bulk Storage, as well as establish a new site in the Noradjuha-Clear Lake area.
It plans to double Moore Bulk Storage’s capacity to 120,000 tonnes and introduce wheat storage.
Operations manager Dale Jager said the co-operative was working with Wimmera farmers to gauge their interest.
He said the likely buy-in price would be about $50,000.
“We are not going to knock back farmers who want to be part of the co-operative but ultimately that amount will come down to how much each site will cost us to buy,” he said.
“Obviously we can’t raise $15 million from farmers, so Moulamein Grain is going to have to put in a fair chunk of the money.”
Mr Jager said the co-operative would help farmers save on storage costs and promote their grain.
“Members of the co-op will get cheaper storage and will get a return at the end of the year if the co-op makes money.
“It is no different from buying a BHP or Telstra share,” he said.
“We are about helping the farmers get better prices for their grain because we have a list of about 15 different buyers that operate across our sites.
“It is about farmers investing in their future so they can have control of their grain.”
Mr Jager said the co-operative could be running by the start of October.
“We don’t plan to change any of the operations or any of their staff at the existing sites,” he said.
“During harvest, we could be looking at employing up to 20 casual workers at Moore Bulk Storage.
“The third site is not built yet and it is probably getting a bit late in the year. That is a 12 to 24-month project.”
Grain Producers Australia southern region director Andrew Weidemann said the co-operative would have to attract strong grain prices to be a success.
“There have been co-operatives in the Wimmera in the past but they have generally come unstuck or failed,” he said.
“It could be good for those who work close to the storage business but you have to question whether farmers would be better off establishing their own storage facilities so they can manage their own grain.
“If there were added benefits with the marketing of grain, then it could work well for farmers.
“But the Wimmera is pretty well serviced with grain storage, so they would have to be offering something more to attract Wimmera growers.”