June 30, 2011


Viterra scores poorly on South Australian grain growers review



According to a review of Viterra's harvest operations, 51% of South Australian grain growers rated Viterra's handling of grain classification last harvest as poor, giving the company a rating of 1-3 out of a maximum of nine.


Only 28% gave a grading of six or higher.


The review of Viterra's harvest operations was carried out by a working group headed by former South Australian Premier Rob Kerin, and including a representative of the South Australian Farmers Federation and Primary Industries and Research South Australia.


The review made 30 recommendations for improvements, including better grain classification techniques and infrastructure.


"I'm pleased that they've finally got a conclusion on where they need to be but I am a bit surprised that we had to go through an internal investigation process to find out what was wrong," said Member of Parliament Adrian Pederick.


The working group's report and Viterra's responses were released this week.


The report said SA experienced the "perfect storm'' of a record crop, widespread and heavy rain during harvest, and a lack of falling number machines to classify grain.


The most common complaint from growers was not having the option to have visually inspected grain reassessed with a falling number machine.


The working group recommended growers have access to falling number machines in future harvests and a consistent policy for their use be adopted by Viterra.


Viterra responded to grower reaction by ordering 78 new falling number machines at a cost of more than AUD4 million (US$4.28 million), as well as promising to employ 200 permanent employees for next harvest and setting up a dedicated unit designed to train regional staff in grain classification.


Agriculture Minister Michael O'Brien says he is satisfied with Viterra's review and believes the company will be well equipped for the next harvest, even if the weather again produces problems.

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