Wimmera farmers: GrainCorp plan will have long-term benefits

SPEAKING OUT: Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann believes GrainCorp's investment to put more grain onto rail is overdue. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

SPEAKING OUT: Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann believes GrainCorp's investment to put more grain onto rail is overdue. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

WIMMERA farmers believe a new GrainCorp investment plan will have long-term benefits for the industry.

GrainCorp announced last week receival sites in Brim, Dooen, Horsham, Kaniva, Lah, Lubeck, Marnoo and Serviceton will be closed and 80 jobs will be axed as part of the $200 million investment plan.

The company will invest more money to put more grain freight on rail.

Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann said the investment was overdue.

"When you look at the bigger picture, it's the way business is going to be done," he said.

"The sites' closures are probably part of a whole rationalisation that GrainCorp needed to have at least five or six years ago."

But Mr Weidemann said he was concerned segregation options might be decreased by the site closures.

"Some of the sites that have been closed have been for specific types of grain, so whether they will still offer segregation will be an interesting question," he said.

He said some of the smaller sites had specialised in genetically-modified canola or other grains which needed segregation.

Victorian Farmers Federation grains group president Brett Hosking said increased efficiency could lead to higher prices in the long term.

"While we never like seeing site closures, it's always good to see somebody invest heavily in supply chain," he said.

"If GrainCorp do everything that they promise and their commitment comes off, we should be seeing $5-a-tonne better prices."

Mr Hosking said some farmers' locations might hurt them in the short term.

"Some of the ones close to site closures will be paying for sure," he said.

"Guys will be looking at longer hauls during harvest and as trucks travel further, there's more time on the road and more costs."

Glenlee farmer Nathan Albrecht said he felt for producers who would be hit with bigger road freight costs due to the closures.

"I'd love to see all trucks off the road," he said.

"All grain should go by rail, so I think it's a great move as long as they can make the rail affordable."

Dooen farmer Mark Johns said he could understand why a company of GrainCorp's size had decided to close smaller sites.

He said he hoped groups of farmers or smaller organisations would take over the sites as co-operative storage.

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