Grain growers and State Opposition want answers

4 February, 2011 8:13AM ACDT

(South Australia) About 140 grain growers have attended a meeting at Tailem Bend to put questions to officials of the grain handling business, Viterra.

Many who delivered grain to the Tailem Bend silos last month think their harvest was undervalued because of the grading techniques used by Viterra.

They are also angry there were long delays to unload grain.

Leighton Huxtable from Karoonda was unimpressed with Viterra’s responses to farmers’ concerns.

“It just goes to show that when a company has got a monopoly like they have and they will treat growers as they have his year and they will continue to treat growers like that until we do something about it,” he said.

Viterra says it had broadened its post-harvest review in response to farmers’ concerns.

The meeting discussed a possible class action against Viterra over the payments farmers received.

One grower said he had been advised by a QC that any action would cost at least $2.5 million.

Michael Schaeffer from the the South Australian Farmers Federation believes it would not help mend the relationship.

“If a class action goes ahead it certainly hinders our ability to negotiate and get Viterra to act in a far better manner into the future,” he said.

Opposition call for committee

It has been suggested by the South Australian Opposition that a Parliamentary Select Committee needs to be established to handle this year’s record grain harvest.

Opposition spokesperson for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Adrian Pederick, says the difficulties posed by a harvest this large need to be given special consideration.

“I would like to see the terms of reference include an examination of delays in delivery of grain, classification methods and competition within the grain storage and handling sector.’

Mr Pederick announced today that he will be moving a motion in Parliament next Tuesday to establish the Select Committee.

‘Yet again the current Government is not interested in backing our state’s farmers. I intend to give them the hearing they want on this issue,’ Mr Pederick said.

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