Calling for transparency

By Country News

A robust, national and public grain stocks reporting regime is essential to give growers confidence that there is a need to import grains to meet a domestic supply shortage, according to NSW Farmers.

In addition to preserving biosecurity standards, NSW Farmers’ Grains committee chair Matthew Madden said grain growers deserved to have full transparency of grain stocks in Australia to dispel rumour and speculation about their levels.

‘‘Rumours do not equal grain stocks. As growers, we should know at any time and with a reasonable degree of certainty what quality and quantity of grain exists in Australia, and its location. The present vacuum ensures growers are kept in the dark,’’ Mr Madden said.

‘‘With Australia about to import bulk grains for the first time in more than a decade, and certainly since the end of the single desk, how can we be certain that there is a shortage of grain warranting imports without any mechanism to measure it?

‘‘The grains industry has been united in its desire to see a stocks reporting regime — now is the time that the re-elected Coalition Government got on with the job of mandating a reporting scheme if the bulk handlers wont otherwise volunteer the information.’’

Mr Madden also called for the re-elected government to explain changes to the way grains are imported into Australia.

‘‘NSW Farmers has written to the Federal Government seeking an explanation about changes made to the import protocols for bulk grains. It would appear that changes were made to the protocol late last year and that there was little to no engagement with industry about these changes,’’ he said.

‘‘Given it will be growers who will have to cost-share the response to any biosecurity incursion linked to an exotic pest found in imported grain, growers deserve to know how the risks arising from bulk grain imports are being managed, as well as what conditions the government may have placed on imports to maintain Australia’s domestic competitive grain growing advantage.

‘‘We must not jeopardise our clean and safe reputation for the sake of expediency.

‘‘Growers deserve complete transparency. The granting of an export permit is an exceptional event and both government and those seeking to import grains must demonstrate the need for these steps if they are to maintain community support and uphold their social licence.’’