AusRAIL, Market Sectors

National Farmers Federation slams rural supply chain

<p>With primary produce prices starting to soar due to the drought, the National Farmers Federation has hit out at the state of Australia’s infrastructure and logistics in the country, saying it was impeding its ability to take advantage of the trend.</p> <p>&#8220With Australia usually contributing around 12% of the world trade in grain, concerns over the drought’s affect on our crops have contributed to world grain prices going through the roof &#8211 wheat up 19.7% and barley up 17.5%,&#8221 NFF vice-president Charles Burke said yesterday (Thursday, November 16) on release of the Westpac-NFF Commodity Index.</p> <p>The index rose 6.4% in October &#8211 reflecting the strength of a global grain market as supply falls.</p> <p>&#8220This global price hike highlights the necessity for Australia’s agricultural commodities to see greater efficiencies achieved throughout the supply chain, by delivering produce to world markets in a way that maintains our premium position on the world stage,&#8221 Mr Burke said.</p> <p>&#8220It is essential Australia’s super-efficient farm production is backed up by better efficiencies in the transport, processing, retail, food services and export sectors. In reality, our agricultural supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link.</p> <p>&#8220NFF is disappointed by revelations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that productivity levels for Australian container stevedoring are decreasing, while total revenue and unit costs are escalating.</p> <p>&#8220Clearly, export-oriented industries, including agriculture, can ill-afford such a trend, let alone as we face significantly reduced incomes due to drought.</p> <p>&#8220NFF will be highlighting transport-related deficiencies and solutions to bolstering them in our 2007 pre-Budget submission to the Federal Government. We will address the fact that farmers are now forced to deal with an out-dated rail network, the inefficiencies that come with over-regulated transport infrastructure, a lack of inland and local level road capacity and poor connectivity to limited freight hubs.</p> <p>&#8220These areas require urgent investment to ensure Australian regional-based industries can continue to make a significant contribution to the Australia economy, not only in today’s climate but into the future beyond drought.</p> <p>&#8220Stronger world prices for agricultural commodities serve to highlight the imperative to deliver our goods efficiently to the world market. Farmers have done their bit in averaging productivity growth of 3.8% each year over the past 20 years, on the back of efficiency gains. It’s time other sectors played their part.&#8221</p> <p>Global prices in October rose for wheat (19.7%), barley (17.5%), beef (2.1%), canola (5.1%), dairy (2.2%) and wool (3.1%) on the previous month. </p> <p>However, these price gains were out-weighed by a fall in the price of cotton (-3.0%), and sugar (-3.5%). </p> <br />