National Farmers' Federation

Review of wheat marketing arrangements prudent

“For the past six months Australia’s wheat growers have lived in the shadow of the Cole Inquiry and in limbo over AWB’s marketing and export authority,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie said.
“Today we welcome the Federal Government’s move to vest responsibility for AWB’s export veto power with the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry – pending in-depth consultation, most importantly, with those most directly and innocently affected, wheat farmers.
“This year has been a tough time for Australian wheat growers. First came the revelations surrounding AWB and, at the same time, dealing with one of the worst droughts in 100 years. Farmers will welcome the certainty the Government has provided today, while undertaking its review to chart the way forward.
“Throughout all of this, the NFF has been resolute that any review of Australia’s wheat export arrangements must include the voice of growers.
“The ‘single desk’ is a difficult issue – many growers support the current system, while others are opposed. The key challenge ahead of the review will be to take account of the wide variety of views that exist within the industry.
“That said, clearly, change is needed. Farmers’, and the broader community’s, confidence in AWB has been shaken. As a ‘given’, there needs to be improved accountability, improved transparency and improved contestability in service and storage for the sector to move forward.
“The timing of the review must take into account the realities of the 2007 growing season – ensuring farmers can plant the 2007 cereal crop with certainty over future arrangements.
“We must also remember that while the Cole Inquiry was scathing of AWB, the innocent bystanders throughout this saga have been Australia’s wheat growers. Their reputation, both here in Australia and overseas, remains completely intact.
“Our farmers have always grown, and will continue to grow, quality grain that is in high demand around the world. The past six months have been difficult for wheat farmers, their families and their industry, but now is the time to be focused on the future.”

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