Peak body backs calls for independent competition inquiry

NSW Farmers has thrown its support behind a push for the ACCC to investigate reports of dysfunction in local and international pricing in the grains and oilseeds markets.

Australian growers have raised concerns about the relatively discounted prices they receive for their crops locally despite high international premiums, with some suggesting there may be an abuse of market power and supply chain inequities.

NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin – a grain grower from the Liverpool Plains – said there was a clear need for better transparency and performance in the supply chain.

“The war in Ukraine and the ongoing North American drought have restricted grain supply globally, and as a result global prices have gone up, but we’re not seeing that on the local market,” Mr Martin said.

“We’re hearing concerns about the misuse of market power and lack of transparency with bulk handlers, particularly around reporting of stock levels and information on crop quality.

“The end result is lower prices for Australian growers than what we’re seeing on the global market.”

Mr Martin said the special investigative powers of an organisation like the ACCC could get to the bottom of the issue and recommend proactive reforms.

“Growers have far less visibility and information on the market they’re selling to and factors influencing pricing compared to others in the supply chain,” Mr Martin said.

“It is crucial we understand whether the Australian grains supply chain is fit-for-purpose to ensure we are internationally competitive, but this analysis hasn’t been done since the wheat export market was deregulated back in 2008.

“We know there are supply chain bottlenecks and we know our prices are much lower than global averages, what we need now is to know what we can do to solve this problem, because fairer prices will benefit the Australian economy, growers and regional communities.”

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