As a wheat-grower who has previously delivered produce to the national pool, I found it interesting that no-holds-barred free-trade advocate Wilson Tuckey implies his approval of the Western Australian wheat-growers’ “own co-operative CBH”, with its tax-free status making it almost a halfway house to a statutory authority (Letters, News Weekly, February 21, 2009).
Mr Tuckey expressed concern that, in recent years, substantial amounts of wheat have been sold for home consumption on the deregulated domestic market. This obviously happened due to the longest and severest drought in living memory restricting the amount of wheat available for export.
Most wheat-growers are fully aware and now tired of Mr Tuckey’s theories and selective rubbery figures, with the latest example being his claim that his WA constituents “typically supply” 70 per cent of all Australia’s export wheat.
His federal electorate of O’Connor may be big, but I suggest its large share of export wheat is only because of the crushing drought elsewhere and is certainly not typical.
It is worth noting that in recent times the president of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) lamented the absence of reliable information regarding the quantities, qualities, availability and value of stored grains.
Before deregulation of the home consumption domestic market, all this essential information was known, and gave processors and end-users a price and supply surety, removing troughs and peaks to give stability to the value-adding industries of this nation.
Clear deficiencies in the (de)regulation of the world’s financial markets are hauntingly symptomatic in the increasingly dysfunctional grain market. These no doubt contributed to growers’ meetings last week across the wheatbelt of NSW calling for a single-seller wheat export system.
I believe that Mr Tuckey’s justification for his opposition to single-desk and regulated marketing is made with erroneous and subjective percentages and figures, and will be judged harshly by history and by wheat farmers who understand the real risks in marketing wheat.