GRAINCORP has announced a restructure plan that will close a raft of grain receival sites across the Wimmera and axe 80 full-time jobs.
The $200-million investment plan, known as Project Regeneration, will fund significant improvements to rail-loading capabilities at the company’s 68 primary sites.
During the 2014-15 financial year GrainCorp will close sites at Brim, Dooen, Horsham, Kaniva, Lah, Lubeck, Marnoo and Serviceton. Its Goroke site will close by the end of 2016.
A total of 72 sites across Australia will close.
Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said some farmers might be hit with higher transport costs.
“For anybody who’s got to travel greater distances it’s disappointing,” he said.
“The remaining sites will have to have a lot more efficiency to cope with quicker turnaround for trucks.”
“It’s disappointing that it has had to have closures for investment to occur.”David Jochinke
Mr Jochinke said the closures were not a surprise after they were flagged in Archer Daniels Midland’s takeover bid for GrainCorp, which was thwarted by the Federal Government last year.
“GrainCorp has had a lack of infrastructure spending in the past decade,” he said
“It’s disappointing that it has had to have closures for that investment to occur.”
Mr Jochinke said the closures should not have happened as rapidly. He said improvements to rail were important, but Victorian grain growers would always have to use roads to some extent.
“Getting trucks off the road is pretty important for two reasons: we’re saving the roads and trains are more efficient at moving larger amounts of grain in shorter periods of time,” he said.
GrainCorp executive chairman Don Taylor said reduced rail costs would allow buyers to post higher bids for grain.
“We estimate rail costs in eastern Australia are $10 per tonne higher than best practice, reducing returns to growers by about $180 million in an average season,” he said.
“GrainCorp’s investment will significantly improve our network’s interface with rail and help reduce rail costs by $5 per tonne.”
All sites will be categorised as either flexible, primary or major.
Under the consolidation of receival sites, primary sites will be at Murtoa, Warracknabeal, Nhill, Ouyen, Beulah and Rainbow.
“The bottom line is it’s a saving for the company, it’s a disadvantage for the farmers and it’s a disadvantage for the roads.”West Wimmera Mayor Ron Hawkins
The only major site in the Wimmera will be at Hopetoun.
West Wimmera Mayor Ron Hawkins said the shire’s farmers would be worse off under the plan.
“The whole GrainCorp concept is more grain onto rail and in West Wimmera we’ve got no rail except the main line,” he said.
“It’s a pretty dismal story really. It’s going to mean more cartage costs from farm to storage or it’ll probably mean there’ll be more on-farm storage.”
Cr Hawkins said forcing farmers to travel further would damage the shire’s roads.
“It’s going to be a huge extra burden on our roads because of the extra movement at harvest time,” he said.
“There’s going to be extra pressure on roads during the winter, which will further deteriorate their condition.
“The bottom line is it’s a saving for the company, it’s a disadvantage for the farmers and it’s a disadvantage for the roads.”