AMENDMENTS passed last night to the Federal Government's Wheat Export Marketing Bill provide the skeleton for a competitive grains market, according to NSW Farmers.
President of Australia's largest state farming organisation, Fiona Simson, said although NSW Farmers retained its opposition to the bill, amendments moved in the Senate by the Australian Greens provided the basis on which new safeguards for farmers could be built.
We hope suitable arrangements to protect the reputation of our grain can be arrived at.
"Our position has been to ensure the structure of the grains supply chain is able to provide the best returns for our members when they sell grain," she said.
"With the export market setting the premium price for grain across eastern Australia, it is imperative competition throughout the supply chain is maintained to ensure Australian grain retains its reputation for quality."
NSW Farmers has been calling for Wheat Exports Australia's accreditation scheme to be used to level the playing field between the trading arms of bulk handling companies and other exporters and to mandate an export quality management system.
Ms Simson said it was pleasing that throughout the debate the substance behind the organisation's position was recognised by so many in parliament.
She specifically thanked the Greens, the Coalition and Tony Windsor for their willingness to work with the farming sector to protect farmers against the impacts of the bulk handlers' natural monopolies.
"One of our major concerns has been the proposal to remove any independent oversight of port access provisions. The amendments will now continue to provide the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with full oversight of competition at grain port terminals," she said.
"Wheat stocks information being made available as part of the mandatory code will also level the playing field between bulk handlers and other exporters to the benefit of competition for farmers' grain."
"The association looked forward to working with the wheat industry taskforce proposed under the under the terms of the amendment.
"We have long held the view the Productivity Commission's review of the wheat export arrangements was too soon after the dismantling of the single desk to properly consider the best policy for the wheat industry.
"We hope suitable arrangements to protect the reputation of our grain can be arrived at, and are pleased issues such as the absence of rules for managing grain pools will be considered."
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