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MEDIA RELEASE by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre

MONDAY 11 MAY 2015

The efficiency of Australia’s bulk export grain supply chain has been pitted against that of one of our most important competitors, Canada, in a new report by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC).

The report is a follow-up to AEGIC’s 2014 study looking at the cost of getting grain from farm to port in Australia.

Titled “The puck stops here! – Canada challenges Australia’s grain supply chains” the report compares and contrasts Australia’s supply chain with that of Canada’s and outlines opportunities for increasing the efficiency of Australia’s grain freight system.

“As international requirements for grain shifts and climatic and financial pressures increase, understanding operating environment of our competitors is vital,” AEGIC Chief Executive Office David Fienberg said.

“Canada in particular is becoming increasingly more competitive, challenging Australia’s key Asian export grain markets.”

In Canada, higher volumes of grain are stored on-farm for longer and the system operates on a just-in-time basis with grain moved to port when a sale is secured. Conversely in Australia, the majority of grain is moved from farm to warehouse immediately after harvest.

Mr Fienberg said during the past 15 years Canada’s grain supply chain had undergone substantial renewal and reform, more than doubling the number of high-throughput receival sites located on high capacity, highly efficient rail lines.

“The majority of Canadian grain is now delivered through this infrastructure which has reduced the time taken to deliver grain to port by one third.

“Canadian supply chains still operate at a higher cost than Australian supply chains, but with higher yields, Canada can deliver grain into Asia at almost the same cost as Australia.”

“This is despite the long distance grain must travel from the inland Canadian growing areas to port, and then the long distance from Canadian ports to Asian markets,” Mr Fienberg said.

The report makes recommendations as to how Australian enhance its competitive position in global grain exports.

“Grain is Australia’s most valuable agricultural export and it is vital the sector examines the competitive pressures coming from other grain-producing nations,” Mr Fienberg said.

“The ultimate aim is to enhance the international competitiveness and value of Australia’s export grain and to return pre-farm gate value to grain growers.”

View “The puck stops here! – Canada challenges Australia’s grain supply chains” report and summary factsheet here

The WA Grains Group has been a member of the Invest West Agribusiness Alliance (IWAA) for over twelve months.  The IWAA membership is open to all private and public organisations that wish to work together to improve the investment environment for the agriculture and food sector in Western Australia.  IWAA is a partnership between the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, the Alliance is to share investment knowledge, and promote Western Australia and facilitate successful investment.

When WA Grains Group members attended various functions it had occurred to them that there was no knowledge of farming being passed onto attendees (groups and organisations that were looking at investing in agriculture).  The other issue was that all of the events were held in the Metropolitan area where there are no farms.

The WA Grains Group with the Marshall family of Pingelly (Dutarning Farm) decided to extend an invitation to members of the alliance to visit a working farm that covered a variety of enterprises.  Thursday the 6th of November saw in excess of 60 people attend this networking event the first that IWAA has held outside of the metropolitan area since the alliance was launched in August 2013.

The bus from Perth arrived in good time for the farm tours to commence at 2.00 with the rest of the people making their way in their own vehicles.  The group was split in two, one group staying around the sheds for Andrew Marshall to explain the change of focus of the earlier days from wool production to the current focus on lamb production.  He covered the necessary requirements and issues of getting a prime lamb to market along with the associated costs.  He also touched on Export Hay.  The other group was on the bus being driven by Darren Baker to see the various crops and pastures.   Les Marshall informed those on the bus of what is required to get a crop from a seed to selling point and what end product it is purchased for.   Pastures were also covered, how they are managed, what makes a good pasture and commercial seed production.  Each tour took approximately an hour after which the group swapped over to the other tour.

2015 IWAA network event 1

Darren Marshall demonstrating the drafting of lambs according to weight.

The tours were followed by a welcome from Doug Clarke the Chairman of the WA Grains Group, an explanation of IWAA by Rob Delane Chairman of IWAA, ‘Country banking & Farmers’ by Darren Gooding of BankWest,  ‘Farming enterprise – as it is in WA’ by Andrew Marshall & Laurence Carslake, ‘Investment potential in grain storage & logistics’ by Kim Packer of Tamma Grains, the afternoon ended with a wrap up by Ray Marshall.  Refreshments, Prime Roast Lamb along with networking completed the day, with the bus leaving an hour late to return to Perth.

Many positive comments were received from those that attended, they appreciated being able to talk directly to farmers and improving their knowledge of the industry as they were not aware of what goes into making the final product.  Those that accepted the invitation from the WA Grains Group to visit Dutarning Farm were representatives from; Yuan’s Fresh Meats, Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, DAFWA, Singapore Chamber of Commerce WA, Bank of China, HopgoodGanim, CNH Industrial, Tomkins Turner Corporate Advisory, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre, KPMG, JGC Corporation, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Commonwealth Bank Migrant Financial Services Division, BankWest, Planfarm, ANZ, RaboBank, local businesses and farmers.

2014 uni student visit

On the 11th and 12th of August the WA Grains Group were hosts to students from the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University (Yangling, China).  The students came to Western Australia for a month and have been attending lectures at Murdoch University.  The two day visit to Lake Grace and Hyden has become a regular part of their itinerary while they are in Western Australia.

During the visit the WA Grains Group organised a tour of Canbinata Yabbies by Derek Nenke, the local CBH facility by area manager Mark Pinney, and Walkers Hill Vineyard by owner Tania Bray.  The evening meal of a lamb roast with all of the vegetables, was provided on short notice by Anna and John Ayers-Dillon.  While they were in Lake Grace they also had the opportunity to see machinery, crops and on farm storage while visiting Clarkes farm.  The visit was topped off with watching shearing on Ross and Cheryl Chappell’s farm before heading off to Hyden.

The visit provided members of the WA Grains Group the opportunity to repay some of the wonderful hospitality shown to them during the Study tour to China in 2013.