Existing freight rates will be maintained for farmers for this season’s grain harvest, Deputy Premier and Acting Primary Industry Minister Hendy Cowan announced today.
Mr Cowan said the Government had acted on the advice of the Seasonal Advisory Committee in view of adverse seasonal conditions currently being experienced across the grain industry.
Farmers were facing substantial increases in freight rates under the current agreement between Westrail and the grain industry.
However, Mr Cowan said the State Government would make up the difference between the recommended increased rates and existing rates.
He said the issue of grain freight rates had been raised with the Seasonal Advisory Committee and it had resolved to work with the industry and Government to progress a positive outcome for producers.
The Seasonal Advisory Committee, chaired by former Transport Minister Eric Charlton, was established by the Minister for Primary Industry Monty House to evaluate the needs of producers and communities on how best to manage the delivery of appropriate assistance and services during and beyond the next season.
Mr Charlton said the decision to maintain freight levels was an important one in containing operational costs to farmers during the potential challenging times ahead.
The current Westrail agreement with the grain industry on freight rates provides for rate variations based upon the gross tonnage of the season’s crop. Current season indications are for a substantially reduced harvest and, as a result, freight rates were set to rise by 13 to 18 per cent.
“Any increase in rail freight rates would have seen a significant shift of grain transport to road freight. Retaining the existing rail freight rates has alleviated the potential pressure from increased heavy haulage on this State’s road network,” Mr Charlton said.
Mr Cowan commended AWB, CBH, the Grain Pool of WA, Westrail, WAFF and PGA on a concerted effort to work with Government to deliver an important outcome for farmers.
“Maintaining freight rates is another component in a whole of Government approach, through the Seasonal Advisory Committee, to help regional communities,” Mr Cowan said.
“The final detail on how the Government will deliver this commitment will be negotiated with industry over the next few weeks.”
Mr Cowan said that the Government needed to make this commitment now to ensure marketers could implement the freight rates for the coming season to cater for prompt payment to growers on their grain deliveries.
Peter Jackson (Deputy Premier’s office) 9222-9595
Julie Cole (Minister House’s office) 9481-2044