Bin closure has farmers fuming

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

After a near decade-long battle to prevent the closure of the Beverley receival point, the bin looks set to stay closed this season.

Local growers now fear congestion at nearby bins and additional freight costs will take the shine off what is fast shaping up to be a bumper harvest.

According to CBH, the Beverley site only has a capacity of 14,000-15,000 tonnes, with one functional open bulkhead and a disused 1959-built H bin.

In recent times it’s only accepted wheat, but local growers said even having that facility took the pressure off during harvest.

Grower Trevor McLean’s main farm is 50km from the Beverley bin and he said carting grain an extra 50km each way to Brookton or York would cost growers time and money.

“Contract rates from my farm would be about $10 a tonne (to Beverley), if they have to go Brookton or York it will be closer $15, ” he said.

“Plus there’s the down time while you’re sitting around waiting.”

Disappointed that upkeep on the bin has been allowed to slide, Mr McLean is worried the closure of the bin will only add to the pressure of additional trucks forced on to roads by Tier 3 closures.

But CBH operations manager Colin Tutt said it was simply not economical to open up a receival point for less than 15,000 tonnes.

“We’ve said to growers that on an as-required basis we would open those facilities to support the management of the crop around the local area, ” he said.

“At this stage, we don’t intend this site to open for this harvest, but that will be constantly reviewed as we move through our planning cycle.

“We’ve still got a long way to go in the season, but there is no doubt the excellent rains we got through July set us up very well.

“If that continues through August we’ll have quite a sizeable task on our hands (and) that will probably make us review some of our decisions not to open some of our sites.

“In the meantime, we’ll provide a certified sample arrangement out of that site if growers deem that required, so they can fast track their grain through York and also Brookton.”

Mr Tutt admitted the closures of Tier 3 lines and the size of production had raised concerns about whether receival points such as York and Brookton would cope, but said planning would be constantly reviewed.

With a price tag in the region of $10 to $15 million, an upgrade was out of the question, but Mr Tutt said CBH planned to keep basic maintenance up so the bin could be opened in the future if the season demanded it.

That statement has grower Greg Barrett-Lennard confused.

Even with the promise of a good season, Mr Barrett-Lennard said the bulk handler had removed the conveyor belts from the site.

“If they had any intentions whatsoever of opening the Beverley bin this year, why would they pull the conveyor out?” he said.

“It’s mid-August now, if they don’t get in and put the conveyor belt back there won’t be enough time.”

Mr Barrett-Lennard said growers weren’t expecting the bulk handler to sink funds into making Beverley a primary site, but they would like the bins maintained and opened for wheat receivals during the peak harvest period.

“The whole of the Avon Valley looks like having a bumper season, touch wood, and some of us are going to be carting grain 120 to 130km on substandard roads, ” he said.

“If it can open for perhaps a month and shift the bulk of the wheat out of Beverley, then the rest would sort itself out, but if we’ve got to take all the grain out of Beverley either to York or Brookton, well it’s a massive cost to our businesses.”

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