CBH’s efforts to get detailed information about the cropping plans of WA’s 4000 grain growers has triggered concerns the co-operative will use the information to bargain unfairly. CBH said it would offer growers a 50¢-a-tonne discount on receival fees for providing crop estimate information, six weeks earlier than usual and at a far more detailed level. CBH wants paddock-specific information, including herbicide use. WAFarmers grains section president Duncan Young said the discount came from the same pool of funds that would be rebated to growers under the co-operative model. “It’s being positioned as a carrot but it’s actually a stick that penalises growers who do not want to give up their private data,” he said. “This is just one of the many concerns we have, and question why CBH did not first consult with industry.” Planfarm grain marketing director Jerome Critch said the extra information could lead to an uneven playing field between buyers and sellers, because CBH has its own trading and marketing arm, which accounts for more than half the State’s grain trades. “If it was to share that information with its trading arm, or if the trading arm was to inadvertently obtain this information, then CBH Trading would have an advantage over farmers and other traders when negotiating a price,” Mr Critch said. “This isn’t intended as CBH bashing, per se. “It is about whether all storage and handling companies are positioning themselves to get more information, potentially giving their trading arms a bigger advantage.” CBH said there were Chinese walls between its operations and trading businesses but Mr Critch said there was no formal separation. “CBH is asking for detailed information that could, possibly, also have implications in the future if it was ever corporatised and I don’t think farmers should blindly give away this information and think all will be OK,” Mr Young said. CBH general manager operations Ben Macnamara said CBH complied with Australian privacy laws in the way it collected, used, disclosed and stored personal information and assured growers the information would not be shared without grower consent. Mr Young said under the old system farmers provided aggregated information, such as how much wheat or barley they had planted, rather than being required to drill down to individual paddocks. “Our suggestion is to allow growers choice, so those who do not want to give up detailed private information could still use the old system,” he said.