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AgForce 30 issues in 30 days: No. 9: Wheat export oversight

Beef Central, 31/07/2013

PRESERVATION of the Australian wheat industry’s reputation and maintenance of key international markets has today been highlighted by AgForce Queensland as it calls for the creation of a body to oversee wheat exports and industry activities.

The call comes as AgForce Queensland moves to day nine of the ’30 Issues, 30 Days’ campaign and brings to the attention of key decision makers the existing lack of a regulatory presence and associated market risks.

When the Australian wheat industry was deregulated Wheat Exports Australia (WEA) was established as an independent statutory authority to administer exports.  However, this body was abolished in November 2012 with the Australian

Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) left to administer port access.  This arrangement is set to stay in place until September 2014 when a mandatory industry code of conduct is scheduled to be implemented.

However, AgForce Grains President, Wayne Newton, said this would not suffice given the code would be voluntary and would not hold consequences for traders which did not subscribe to the code.

“We are calling for an oversight body to be put in place which has regulatory powers to ensure the quality and reputation of Australian grain and to facilitate open and free access to ports,” Mr Newton said.

“This body would be similar to how the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) supervise the ASX and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) oversees the banking sector.

“This move is critical to Australia being able to assure international customers of the quality of our product and to ensure growers have fair port access and information pertaining to grain stocks.

“In a highly competitive world market we cannot afford to jeopardise our reputation or markets.”

There are also increasing calls from many sectors for greater transparency of stocks and quality information by location of grains across the country to allow greater efficiencies in the marketplace, and encourage greater competition for farmers’ grain.

“We are not calling for the reinstatement of the single desk in any way, but we do need an impartial oversight body to act like a referee, keeping players in line if required.”

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