West Wimmera grain growers frustrated by GrainCorp changes


WEST Wimmera grain growers are concerned and frustrated about changes to GrainCorp.

Kaniva Silo Group met GrainCorp representatives last week to discuss the situation.

GrainCorp announced earlier this month it would close West Wimmera sites Kaniva, Serviceton and Goroke.

The remaining sites at Lillimur and Carpolac will become 'flex-custom' sites, meaning they will provide extra capacity only when required. 

Group president Malcolm Eastwood said the Kaniva site would be closed for receivals from now on.

"GrainCorp is still undecided what to do with Lillimur, but at this stage it will continue as normal with minimal upgrades," he said.

The Lillimur site only received canola and wheat previously, but under GrainCorp's new model, it will also receive barley.

Mr Eastwood said GrainCorp would need to upgrade the Lillimur site for it to receive barley.

"Lillimur had one of the largest years in terms of commodities received there last season," he said.

"However, there is space for one more bunker and still space for additional tonnage. 

"But a major issue at Lillimur has always been the need for proper bunker filling equipment.

So they can receive additional barley at Lillimur, but we need better equipment to do so."

Kaniva farmer and West Wimmera councillor Bruce Meyer said it defied logic that a high grain-producing shire did not have a guaranteed grain receival site.

He said there were many years when West Wimmera grew 50 per cent of the Wimmera's grain.

"Yet we aren't guaranteed a receival point - that is something to seriously think about," he said.

"GrainCorp expects us to take 50 per cent of the Wimmera's grain somewhere else.

"We need to make sure Lillimur is upgraded so we can achieve things in the future."

Kaniva resident Kelvin Moar said he calculated that West Wimmera farmers would be $22,500 worse off because of the extra travel.

"It's going to be tough," he said.

"It is inevitable, it was always going to happen and it should have happened five years ago.''

Kaniva Silo Group president Malcolm Eastwood

Mr Eastwood said the Kaniva site was closed because it was running at a loss.

"Any person with a business brain knows that a site can't continue to do that," he said.

"Growers are disappointed it closed and I'm disappointed it closed so quickly - I was hoping GrainCorp would upgrade Lillimur to an acceptable standard before closing Kaniva."

Mr Eastwood said another major issue GrainCorp raised at the meeting was that 20 years ago, there were only five or six varieties of malted barley - now there were 17.

"No company should be expected to have that many segregations," he said.

"We need to try to encourage growers to not grow as many varieties."

Mr Eastwood said he welcomed the changes to GrainCorp. 

"They did have a very poor business model the way they were operating and what they have done is exactly the same as what Archer Daniels Midland was going to do," he said.

"It is inevitable, it was always going to happen and it should have happened five years ago.

"As a grower, we have to embrace it and get on with it."

He said the changes would mostly affect barley growers in region.


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