AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Big dry up in demand for grain transport

<p>Truck companies stand to incur significant losses over coming months as grains forecasters continue to downgrade this year’s expected yield.</p> <p>The New South Wales Road Transport Association has joined its South Australian cousin in warning of the flow-on impact that the droughts will have this year.</p> <p>ABB said it would not open almost a third of its South Australian grain receival centres for this year’s harvest, which would mean longer hauls for trucking companies to more distant receival points.</p> <p>But both road transport associations said the grain transport task would shrink because the expected total volumes to be carried have plummeted. </p> <p>NSW RTA spokesperson Hugh McMaster said a massive drop in grain volumes this year &#8211 expected to be about half of the 6.4m tonnes forecast in mid September &#8211 would make it difficult for companies dependant on the grain haulage contracts.</p> <p>&#8220Except for central Queensland and the odd pocket here and there, it will be a pretty awful year for grain growers and that will have a flow-on effect to harvest contractors and road transport operators,&#8221 Mr McMaster said.</p> <p>A larger proportion of the crop would become stockfeed, which would provide other work for drivers, but it would not offset the impact of what was considered one of the worst droughts on record, he said.</p> <p>&#8220The industry cannot move interstate to do the grain task elsewhere because there is not a whole lot of grain to move in other areas either, from southern Queensland right through to Victoria and SA,&#8221 Mr McMaster said.</p> <p>While none are prepared to put a financial figure on the impact, SA Road Transport Association executive director Steve Shearer said there was no doubt that some truck operators would struggle to cover costs.</p> <p>&#8220Many trucking contract companies who spend up to three months with most of their fleet carting grain, are going to have to try and find some other work,&#8221 Mr Shearer told the ABC last week.</p> <p>The concerns come as deputy prime minister Mark Vaile said the Federal Government would consider moves to extend drought support to more farm-dependant businesses.</p> <p>The Federal Government put another $900m into its drought assistance program last month, but Mr Vaile said other farm-related businesses could be given more assistance.</p> <p>"Circumstances have been presented to us where there are directly agricultural-related small businesses, like harvesting contractors, spray contractors, that are being significantly affected in many EC [exceptional circumstances&#93 areas," he said.</p> <p>"So those circumstances are currently being assessed."</p> <br />