Scandal at AWB in Australia, the former single-desk entity responsible for buying and marketing wheat in the country has led to significant changes. The Wheat Export Marketing Alliance has unveiled a new entity to take control of single desk marketing and the national pool in July 2008, but growers are being asked to fund its establishment.
The new company will be called Australia Wheat Ltd. - or AusWheat - and is being billed as a "lean and innovative organization" that will not require a large capital base.
WEMA Chairman Graham Blight says the business plan for AusWheat is close to completion. "In this modern financial era there are plenty of options available to finance the operations of Australia Wheat," he says. "However, to build the structure of the company we need funds to engage skilled operators immediately due to our short time period to be up and running."
As such WEMA is launching a "fighting fund" to raise money for the development of the new entity, and is calling on growers to voluntarily donate. "I understand that some growers will be angry at having to raise funds again to support the establishment of their own company, but that is the lot we have and this is our last opportunity to control our own destiny," Blight says. "Contrary to recent press reports there will not be a compulsory levy for AusWheat; once it begins operations it will be self funding."
AusWheat will control export sales through its single desk authority, manage the national pool, price the estimated pool returns and determine quality incentives. It will also contribute to an industry organization that will capitalize on technology, product innovation, global trends and market intelligence to transform the industry to a "world class quality food producer".
Concludes Blight: "An important philosophy of AusWheat is to position the wheat industry profit centre at the farm gate instead of the shareholders pocket."