GrainGrowers’ National Policy Group, held its third meeting of the year in conjunction with the 11th Innovation Generation Conference and considered a range of policy issues affecting the grains industry nationally. The agenda included a productive discussion with Fiona Simson, President of National Farmers’ Federation, about broader agriculture issues and NFF’s priorities.
In particular, GrainGrowers’ National Policy Group (NPG) discussed:
- the development of a national grains industry strategy
- the two enquiries under way into the national supply chain and heavy vehicle pricing, and
- the results of a GrainGrowers’ survey of the dimensions and configurations of agricultural heavy vehicles and the implications for a single Class 1 Notice designed to cover the bulk of vehicles in use.
With the cost and efficiency of getting grain to market always an issue for growers, the NPG also approved a major project to model grains freight pathways, modes and costs using the CSIRO TraNSIT modelling tool. This work will provide baseline information about rail and truck movements from up-country to port at a regional level, and will also identify pinchpoints and problems.
The model will be used to understand the productivity benefits available if certain rail and road routes are improved. This will provide hard data to take to governments about specific options for infrastructure, planning and regulatory changes which have real benefits for the industry and community.
Importantly, the NPG considered the findings of recent research commissioned by GrainGrowers into Multi-Peril Crop Insurance and current products on the Australian market. The NPG considered challenges with current product offerings and barriers to farmer uptake.
The meeting also marked the start of NPG discussions on three major initiatives which will occur in the coming six months and which will have major implications for the grains industry. They are reviews of Agricultural Levies and the Port Access Code (both led by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources) and the preparation of GRDC’s new five year strategic plan for grains research, development and extension.
Supply chain, freight and heavy vehicles
The NPG endorsed a number of key principles for a National Supply Chain Strategy and for independent pricing regulation for road use by heavy vehicles, which will form the basis of GrainGrowers’ submissions to the current enquiries and align with principles supported by the National Farmers’ Federation. These principles include:
- 1.The national freight and supply chain strategy should encourage an increase in rail’s share of the national freight task for grain.
- 2.Support for the construction of inland rail, ensuring the integration of existing rail and road infrastructure to underpin the inland rail line, as a key part of the grains supply chain. The inland rail must be a complete port-to-port solution with investment in appropriate infrastructure, capacity and access arrangements to ensure this is achieved.
- 3.Investment in the road network to ensure roads are fit for purpose and allow efficient vehicle movements to accommodate the current and future freight task.
- 4.Alignment of road regulations nationally, ensuring appropriate road classifications are in place that facilitate an efficient supply chain from farm to market / port.
- 5.Innovative investment models must be encouraged to ensure the timely development of critical supply chain infrastructure.
- 6.Independent price regulation should be pursued for road use by heavy vehicles, with all revenue raised hypothecated to road construction, maintenance and operation.
- 7.A nationally consistent set of principles for setting heavy vehicle road user charges should be implemented – although this does not mean support for uniform national pricing.
- 8.Different prices should be set for metropolitan and regional roads and for use at different times.
- 9.Direct road user charges should replace registrations and fuel excise; these should not be imposed over and above existing transport charges.
- 10.Universal service obligations must be an integral part of any road user scheme to ensure a base level of service in regional areas.
A single class 1 notice for heavy agricultural vehicles
The NPG considered the results of GrainGrowers’ survey on heavy vehicles and reiterated their support for a single national Class 1 Agricultural vehicles and combination mass and dimension exemption notice. The NPG highlighted that the notice must cover the bulk of vehicles in use. To achieve this aim, GrainGrowers will now seek an increase in the limit/requirements for single vehicle length, combination dimensions and pilots, axle configuration, vehicle height and auger rear overhang, and is requesting careful consideration by the NHVR of the definition of zones as this will impact on the vehicles which can be used in a specific area.
For more information: https://www.graingrowers.com.au/policy/micro-surveys
Multi-peril crop insurance (MPCI) and Managing Farm Risk Programme
The NPG considered recent research into MPCI that compared seven products currently in the marketplace and identified a number of gaps in the products on offer which have resulted in poor farmer uptake. The research will be published and released to all GrainGrowers members in a “compare the products” format in the near future.
For more information on the Australian Government’s Managing Farm Risk Programme: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/mfrp
GRDC five year strategic plan
The NPG prepared an initial list of priorities it would like considered as part of the strategic plan. These will be refined over the coming months, with feedback sought from GrainGrowers’ members. This will allow the NPG members to take a strong position to the joint GrainGrowers/GPA/GRDC workshop on the strategic plan to be held in late 2017.
The NPG members encourages all growers to get involved in the development of this plan as it will set the direction for grains R,D & E for the next five years. The NPG also identified the importance of GrainGrowers providing a number of ways to ensure members can have their say about the future direction of GRDC.
GrainGrowers’ National Policy Group is made up of 15 growers from major grain growing regions in Australia.
The NPG meets several times a year face to face. Members also hold teleconferences regularly to debate important issues coming up throughout the year.
Current NPG members are:
Northern Region: Peter Thompson; Ian Gourley; Keith Harris; Terry Fishpool; Bruce Schwartz
Southern Region: Richard Rice; Cam Parker; Emma Thomas; Bob McCormack; Mark Hoskinson
Western Region: Tristan Baldock; Colin Nicholl; Kallum Blake; Steve Tilbrook
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