Grain Producers Australia is calling on federal political leaders to deliver urgent solutions to fix infrastructure damage that’s having devastating impacts on farm viability and community safety.
Recent flooding is responsible for causing significant losses for many Australian grain producers with downgraded grain quality, un-harvestable crops and severely delayed and interrupted harvest.
The severe and untimely weather is also having a major impact on local road networks, exacerbating an already strained grains supply chain – not only on the east coast of Australia.
Grain Producers Australia Chair, Barry Large said Australian grain producers are carrying serious production risks this year, having planted our most expensive crop, due to record high input costs.
Mr Large said these supply chain disruptions and setbacks – especially damaged roads, covered in potholes throughout grain growing communities – were only adding insult to injury.
He welcomed Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister for Emergency Management, taking a ride on a grain transport route this harvest, to see these issues first-hand.
“I’m sure there many growers and community leaders, such as local government members, who will gladly offer some direction for the ministers on which roads need to be avoided, in order to get out and witness this damage for themselves,” he said.
“Time is money at harvest and we’re all conscious of good safety outcomes, but we need a much higher standard of infrastructure and roads, to deliver these shared outcomes.”
With another large harvest in play, close to last year’s record 62 million tonnes, traffic movement and road use is higher than normal, with trucks moving grain loads from farms to delivery sites.
GPA Northern Director and Moree grain producer, Matthew Madden, said the Federal Government needed to fast-track emergency funding sources, in the interests of public safety and the economy.
He said the Roads to Recovery Program – which supports the construction and maintenance of the nation's local road infrastructure assets, to facilitate greater accessibility and improves safety, economic and social outcomes for Australians – was a great starting point to fixing problems.
“The bottom line is we need a source of serious and legitimate funding delivered now, so we can start working on these urgent jobs that really needed to be done yesterday, he said.
“Roads are not only riddled with potholes – they’re also blocked and shut-off because they’re so unsafe. We can’t continue to maintain public safety standards, without urgent road maintenance.
“The cash needs to start flowing to move farm machinery safely and to get the grain moving safely and efficiently from farms to customers – especially our major export customers.”
GPA wrote to the two ministers recently, and Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, raising concerns about the impact of floods on grain farming communities, highlighting infrastructure damage.
In GPA’s 2022 Federal Election Survey, 44.4pc of respondents named transportation infrastructure/freight costs as a top five policy issue they wanted prioritised by the Federal Government, to support the productivity and profitability of their grain farming business.
GPA’s 2022 federal election priorities called for high level strategic analysis and investment to reduce grain freight costs for growers.
This policy priority cited a 2019 study by AgriFutures, ‘The Impact of Freight Costs on Australian Farms’, to highlight why greater action is still needed by government, to reduce this significant cost on the Australian grains industry, and ensure we remain internationally competitive.
The study shows freight costs (moving commodities to and from agricultural properties and off-site storages) are highest for Australian grains representing 27.5pc of Gross Value of Farm Production. And by comparison the cost is 1pc of GVAP for Australian poultry farmers.