North­ern rice push

Rice review rec­om­mends in­dus­try ex­pan­sion

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ZOE MCMAUGH

The ex­pan­sion of the rice in­dus­try into other parts of the state is to be in­ves­ti­gated fol­low­ing an in­dus­try review.

It was one of the rec­om­men­da­tions to come out of a review into vest­ing pow­ers of the NSW Rice Mar­ket­ing Board.

The review sup­ported the rec­om­men­da­tion to ex­tend vest­ing ar­range­ments, which the NSW Gov­ern­ment an­nounced would be ex­tended to 2022.

The vest­ing pow­ers al­low the Rice Mar­ket­ing Board to hold an ex­clu­sive ex­port agree­ment with SunRice.

The review also rec­om­mended the Rice Mar­ket­ing Board in­ves­ti­gates and im­ple­ments ways to de­velop the rice in­dus­try out­side the Mur­ray and Rive­rina, ‘‘to avoid costs from re­strict­ing the growth of the in­dus­try in north­ern NSW’’.

‘‘A small num­ber of grow­ers and firms made sub­mis­sions to this review ar­gu­ing that cur­rent vest­ing ar­range­ments re­strict the de­vel­op­ment of the rice in­dus­try in north­ern NSW,’’ the review re­port reads.

‘‘There are two parts to this claim: (1) that trans­porta­tion costs are large and pro­hib­i­tive, which pre­vents north­ern grow­ers from sell­ing their rice to SunRice to ex­port and (2) that be­ing con­strained to sell into the small do­mes­tic mar­ket re­stricts their abil­ity to in­crease scale and com­pete with SunRice.’’

Rice­grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia pres­i­dent Jeremy Mor­ton said while north­ern NSW grow­ers will never be able to meet the scale of rice grow­ing in the Rive­rina and Mur­ray, there is a chance to ex­plore ex­pan­sion to sup­ple­ment NSW rice pro­duc­tion.

‘‘There ap­pears to be an op­por­tu­nity there, and while it will never be the same as the Rive­rina in terms of pro­duc­tion we do have to ex­plore all the op­por­tu­ni­ties,’’ Mr Mor­ton said.

‘‘The north does get some good com­mer­cial yields, and a lot is grown on rain­fall and tends to be a base crop for ro­ta­tion.

‘‘If we can have a core group of grow­ers there it can be a good thing for SunRice, par­tic­u­larly with the Rive­rina and Mur­ray more sus­cep­ti­ble to wa­ter and cli­matic con­di­tions like drought.’’

Mr Mor­ton said he in­tends to visit the north­ern part of the state in the new year to speak with grow­ers.

He high­lighted, how­ever, that re­duc­ing trans­port costs to SunRice fa­cil­i­ties may not be pos­si­ble.

‘‘The RGA is cer­tainly go­ing to get there and try and un­der­stand what it is they (north­ern NSW grow­ers) re­ally need,’’ he said.

‘‘The do­mes­tic mar­ket is an at­trac­tive mar­ket, but like any good in­dus­try there needs to be a cer­tain scale of pro­duc­tion to jus­tify in­vest­ment.’’

The vest­ing review was con­ducted by NSW DPI to ex­am­ine whether the cur­rent vest­ing ar­range­ment con­tin­ues to pro­vide NSW pro­duc­ers with a price pre­mium over what they could oth­er­wise earn from an open ex­port mar­ket.

It also rec­om­mended the vest­ing pol­icy be re­viewed again in 2020, and that there be an in­de­pen­dent review of the Rice Mar­ket­ing Board ‘‘to en­sure that any risk of con­flict of in­ter­est is ap­pro­pri­ately ad­dressed’’.

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