IN LATE 2015 a group of Northern NSW grain growers formed GrowerCo, a co-operative aimed at improving supply chain efficiencies and cutting post farmgate costs.
In the past 12 months GrowerCo has been exploring ways farmers in Northern NSW can better use rail to improve the supply chain.
Currently post farmgate expenses, which mainly consist of moving grain from farm to port, are costing growers as much as 40 per cent of the price per tonne of wheat they are receiving.
GrowerCo is aiming to improve the efficiencies in the rail journey to cut costs significantly by moving large quantities of grain from Northern NSW to the Port of Newcastle quicker.
GrowerCo's business and program manager, John Picone said there was a huge opportunity to shift grain movements from road to rail, which could result in much better utilisation of the existing below- and above-rail assets, while lowering costs and improving farmers' net returns at the same time.
The massive growth in the coal industry has seen upgrades in the below-rail infrastructure to the north, which allows for longer and heavier trains travelling through the Hunter Valley to port. Grain trains have been able to take advantage of this.
In conjunction with Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), GrowerCo is conducting a study aimed at fully understanding the supply chain costs and how growers can work collaboratively with exporters, train operators and port facilities to improve the efficiency of moving grain from farm to port.
During the last harvest GrowerCo collaborated with two major grain receiving sites, AWB Penny's Lane and Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) at Moree.
LCD gave a receival rebate to members who delivered to their site.
Mr Picone said there would be further opportunities to collaborate with bulk handling sites this year.
“These agreements will result in further rebates to members and will assist the co-op’s push for efficiency gains in loading trains with savings shared between all stakeholders.,” he said.
"If more grain is moved by rail it will make it cheaper for everyone.”
Mr Picone said the big opportunity for growers who are storing more grain, is moving to loading trains directly from on farm storage to export.
Mr Picone said they are currently looking to increase the size of their base to load trains that aren’t on main lines, such as Weemelah, giving those areas the same advantages as growers near mainline loading facilities.