Ungarie silo closure ire sends grain to ground

Growers shun GrainCorp


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Scott Robb, "Danbury", Ungarie, is bolstering his capacity to store grain on farm in waiting for better prices and selling options other than GrainCorp. He says a big factor in his decision was the closing of the Ungarie depot.

Scott Robb, "Danbury", Ungarie, is bolstering his capacity to store grain on farm in waiting for better prices and selling options other than GrainCorp. He says a big factor in his decision was the closing of the Ungarie depot.

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Frustration at the closure of grain handling facilities means farmers will dig holes for grain and wait.

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Scott Robb, “Danbury”, Ungarie, is one of a cluster of farmers in the Ungarie area this year who won't be selling their harvest to GrainCorp.

Instead he's going to store it on farm, in silos and underground, and sit and wait until prices are good.

So too, Mark Hoskinson, “Fernleigh”, Kikoira, is busy building bunkers.

They have had a gutful of GrainCorp, which will not open the Ungarie silo this year.

They've had a "cracking year" and they believe a decision to close the Ungarie depot has been stitched up.

Mr Robb said disgruntled farmers were told the Ungarie silo would stay open if sufficient tonnes were delivered but were never told how much that was.

"We filled the silos last year and then GrainCorp wouldn't open the bunker, which was capable of taking another 40,000 tonnes, so we had to take it to Calleen, GrainCorp's preferred site.

He said GrainCorp created figures it needed to close Ungarie.

“I believe if Ungarie silo had been operating normally during the recent harvest with the bunker site open, and normal hours, it’s receival amount would tell a different story." Mr Robb said during the height of harvest at Calleen he had to wait 40 minutes from his load being speared for grading and receiving his grain assessment.

Then he had to wait two more hours to unload. "You're only as fast as the slowest point in the chain, they had two weighbridges, but only one sampling point.” Mr Robb believes the pandemonium of the grain harvest led GrainCorp to make bad business decisions.

Chris Daly, “South Moon”, Ungarie, agreed bad decisions were made. “What really disappoints us is GrainCorp has spent a lot of money on a bunker (at Ungarie) and it could take a lot of grain, up to 40,000 tonnes, but it wasn’t connected to the rail line which passes adjacent to the site.”

Mr Robb said last year Ungarie silo was never going to receive the full amount of wheat grown in the district.

GrainCorp’s southern NSW regional manager Sarah Roache said Ungarie had been fully assessed as a alternative to Calleen but the figures did not add up. She said she empathised with growers, but added some were happily driving 100km to get to Calleen.

Farmers say the extra kilometres to Calleen will take a heavy toll on roads they use every day and pay for via their rates. And while the Ungarie to West Wyalong Rd, the only thoroughfare linking the two, is state government controlled, the Bland Shire Council is responsible for its upkeep.

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