Growers support co-op model: CBH

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Nick ButterlyCountryman
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CBH chairman Wally Newman says the survey made clear growers supported the current co-op model.
Camera IconCBH chairman Wally Newman says the survey made clear growers supported the current co-op model.

CBH has used its grower survey to attempt to draw a line under the divisive takeover bid by Australian Grains Champion, arguing farmers have made it clear they want to stick with the co-operative model.

But some farmers have questioned the results of the survey, dismissing it as push-polling while arguing the value released through corporatisation could have helped growers hit this year by frost.

In March, the CBH board rejected an approach from within its shareholder ranks to corporatise and float the 83-year-old organisation on the stock exchange.

The AGC consortium was backed by east coast handler GrainCorp.

The CBH survey, which was said to have been completed by 2600 grower members, found 79 per cent of members preferred a co-op model. A similar number of share-holders were said to want to protect the “collective equity” found in CBH for future generations of farmers.

CBH chairman Wally Newman said the survey made clear growers supported the current co-op model.

“If you look at the figures there, they have got 12 per cent support for a corporate model, ” he said.

“I think the figures speak for themselves ... the growers have dictated what they want.”

Chief executive Andrew Crane said growers had looked at what had happened elsewhere in Australia through corporatisation and had made clear their desire to stick with the status quo.

“I think what’s really important is they have seen other like organisations corporatised elsewhere in Australia and, while there is some value release at one moment in time, what our growers are particularly concerned about is what happens beyond that in the form of investment in the network and the fee they pay for using it,” he said.

But Pastoralists and Graziers Association Western Grain Growers committee chairman Gary McGill said the survey was a waste of money. Had the corporatisation plan been put to a full vote of members, rather than a board vote, it could have succeeded.

“The true test would have been to put the AGC proposal to growers in its entirety,” he said.

He slammed CBH as a “moribund monopoly”.

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