Program will 'help growers meet market'

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian
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Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Wiedemann, who also chairs the stewardship project, says the program has the support of all State farming organisations, apart from the PGA.

Mr Wiedemann said a stewardship program would allow growers to meet market requirements.

"The market is now asking for a lot more information in regard to the products we are selling," he said.

Mr Wiedemann cited Japan, Indonesia, Korea, China, Pakistan and India as markets that had requested adherence to protocols in regard to certain grain exports.

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"In regard to certain grains, such as pulses and in recent times barley, for access into markets, particularly into Japan, you need to have some level of record keeping to be able to participate in markets that are suppling millers and brewers.

"It's become quite obvious that we need a platform, so the industry has agreed to work on a set of protocols rather than have them enforced by a government authority."

Mr Wiedemann said all State farming organisations apart from the PGA attended a recent Grains Research and Development Corporation consultative meeting with GPA.

"As an industry at the national level, the decision has been made to progress a set of standards that growers can use," he said.

"Rather than having 20 or 30 different programs, we would have one set of standards that would be used for access to some of these particular markets, and growers could choose whether they want to use it or not and participate in those markets.

"We've been talking about this for two years," he said.

GRDC chairman Keith Perrett defended the funding of the report, saying it had been driven by industry.

"It was not something that GRDC pushed - we haven't done anything with (the report)," he said.

"All we have said is that to have a proper stewardship program you probably need some research underpinning what you are doing in this program - how do you do certain things and how do you manage certain issues.

"That's where we would come in. "If (a stewardship program) meant getting access to chemicals, getting access to farms the way we want to, then it's just another layer we would have to deal with, unfortunately - but at the moment there is no need."

Mr Perrett said some industry leaders believed a stewardship program would be imposed on the industry if a voluntary program was not driven by growers.

"Yes, there is that potential - some leaders have the view that if we don't do something at some stage down the track there will be a system imposed on us," he said.

"Their logic is, if we get in first and do a stewardship program that supports the way we want to do business, then we are better off doing it ourselves than have it imposed on us - there is probably logic in that.

"If the industry comes to us, it doesn't have to be unanimous, but it has to be a strong view - we will support them in this underpinning research. If industry decides they don't want to do it, that's their choice."

WAFarmers grains section president Kim Simpson refuted Mr Wiedemann's statement that WAFarmers was in support of the proposal, saying the grains council had not yet studied the full details of the report.

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