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Grain still hitting the market

IN SPITE of logistical issues as a result of the east coast floods, exporters are reporting they are still getting grain onto boats to meet export demand.

Rosemary Richards, executive director of the Australian Grain Exporters Association (AGEA) said that in spite of some difficulties getting the grain from upcountry sites to port, the shipping stem was still strong for grain exports.

“The shipping program is strong, there’s still a lot of grain moving out, there’s over half a million tonnes booked for February,” she said.

Ms Richards said it was a matter of exporters finding the easiest port to move the grain from.

“We’ve seen some issues, like limited rail access into Geelong and the closure of Fisherman Island for some time in Queensland, but exporters are working around these difficulties.”

GrainCorp said in its latest harvest report that it expects there to only be minor crop losses from stored grain, while early reports after the Victorian floods indicate most grain is deliverable, albeit downgraded to feed quality.

However, in the overall scheme of the Australian crop, the tonnages in question are relatively minor.

“It is unclear in Victoria what area has been abandoned and how bad the downgrading has been, but on a macro level, most of the crop is already off,” Ms Richards said.

She also said there were issues with farmers who could not meet contract requirements because of access issues to either unharvested paddocks or on-farm storage, but said she expected exporters and farmers to work through this together.

Robert Green, Cargill Australia chief executive, said in the December floods in NSW, his company had worked with farmers who had come to them with genuine difficulties in getting accessing the grain and given them an extra month for delivery.

Ms Richards said the plus for both exporters and farmers with late contracts was that there was enough grain that could be accessed for exporters to meet their international customers’ needs, easing the pressure to get grain out of flood impacted areas immediately.

However, she the damage to the rail infrastructure could be felt for months, especially in parts of Queensland, where she said it is expected to be over three months before grain rail tracks are operational again.

Mark Thiele, managing director Elders Toepfer Grain (ETG) said that in spite of a challenging harvest, most exporters were coping reasonable well.

“It’s a regional thing, in some areas there is more of an impact than others, but overall, I’d say the exporters have managed to keep the shipping program ticking along reasonably well, given the challenges.”

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