Growers up in arms over Mid West bin closures

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Growers in the Geraldton zone are accusing CBH of passing on costs to growers and local government as a result of several bin closures for this harvest.

After a heated meeting with the Inland Line Bin Representatives Group last month, CBH announced the Pintharuka, Gutha, Wongoondy, Bunjil, Buntine, Bowgada, Pindar and Sullivan receival sites would not be open for receivals this year.

Morawa grower and group spokesman Rod Madden said the bin closures would impose a massive burden on growers and shires.

"If CBH expects us to cart across the inland rail line to Mingenew, Coorow or Carnamah and congest those sites, we think it is totally unreasonable," the former CBH director said.

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"They are not only passing on the cost to growers but to the shires that have to maintain those roads."

Perenjori Shire president Chris King, also a participant in the meeting, said CBH's decision to not open the Bunjil site would have a particularly damaging impact.

"CBH is transferring the costs to the shires that have to maintain those roads," he said.

"Their decision to not open Bunjil is putting pressure on the Bunjil to Carnamah road, which is already in need of significant investment.

"We have asked CBH to contribute to local roads but it is not very keen to because that would set a precedent."

A grower himself, Mr King said his discussions with CBH were "robust" but that he was disappointed with the closures.

"I think they could take about 20,000 to 30,000 tonnes at Bunjil if they chose to open it."

Mr Madden said CBH was leaving growers in the dark on the issue.

"We are not against rationalisation of the network but we want to know what CBH's network strategy policy is for the inland receival points," he said.

"There are a number of questions the group has requested from CBH, but unfortunately they have not been forthcoming.

"We want to know what their plan is for the Geraldton port zone and northern parts of the Kwinana zone - it appears they don't have a plan and if they do they are not telling us."

CBH general manager operations Colin Tutt could not be directly contacted for comment, but issued a written response.

"CBH has no plans to permanently close any of the current receival sites in the Geraldton zone, or anywhere else across the network," the response said.

"On a seasonal basis CBH scales the network to fit the harvest and makes decisions in conjunction with growers on which sites are best suited to manage the harvest task of that year.

"This year due to the anticipated below average crop size of 9.1 to 9.3 million tonnes with some 1.5 million tonnes estimated to be delivered in the Geraldton zone.

"Compared with the 15 million tonnes crop last year of which more than 3.5 million came from Geraldton, a number of smaller sites across the network will not open for receivals."

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