ONE of the areas hardest hit by Viterra's decision to close 17 upcountry sites will be northern Eyre Peninsula, where the loss of six silos has surprised some locals after a relatively good 2018 harvest.
The sites of Minnipa, Kyancutta, Cungena, Waddikee, Kielpa and Wharminda have been closed.
Local silo committee chair Aaron Grocke, who farms at Koongawa, says the permanent closure of these sites would be an interesting call after a relatively good start to this season.
"Viterra say these sites have become inefficient or don't get used to capacity, but then they also have segregations that can make it happen that way," he said.
"Viterra will need to stump up a few more stackers at the remaining sites because of the extra segregations they'll need to provide."
Many (farmers) will be forced into using contractors or outlaying money to buy extra trucks that they can't afford.- AARON GROCKE, Koongawa
Mr Grocke said there were a lot of smaller farmers, particularly in the Minnipa district, that would be unhappy with the closures.
"They only have little trucks that will have to travel further, many will be forced into using contractors or outlaying money to buy extra trucks that they can't afford," he said.
"There is also a lot of concern about the amount of extra trucks that will be on the road at harvest trying to get into the remaining silos."
Matt Cook crops up to 1300 hectares at Minnipa.
He said unfortunately the "writing had been on the wall for the silo for a long time" due to a lack of investment.
"Most of the little sites around here have not been kept up as well as they should have been, particularly since the rail closed to here a few years ago," he said.
"There will be some very loyal locals that would be angry about this."
Mr Cook was dubious about how the nearby "strategic sites" of Poochera, Wirulla, Streaky Bay and Wudinna would keep up at harvest.
"They will battle to have good turnarounds with so many more trucks at each site," he said. "These smaller sites took that pressure away from those larger sites.
"They will have to invest more at those strategic sites, certainly in more weighbridges and bunkers."
Viterra said it increased the storage capacity at Wudinna by 40,000 tonnes in 2016-17 and this year would consider additional elevation capacity.
"We also increased the bunker storage at Thevenard in 2016-17 and added a new weighbridge there last year," operations manager Michael Hill said.
"Lock has also increased 170,000t since 2015-16."
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GRAIN Producers SA chairman Wade Dabinett said he was interested in Viterra's view for the future, following it announcement to close 17 upcountry sites across the state.
He said GPSA were due to meet with Viterra "soon" to go through plans for this year and what was learned from last season.
"We would like to know what has driven them to make that commercial decision (to close the sites); is the supply chain changing from what we are used to traditionally; what investments they are making in the supply chain; and how will they continue to service the affected growers," he said.
"We need to understand the changing nature of the supply chain before we make any judgement on individual site decisions.
"GPSA will then work with its members in ensuring there is a solution to any supply chain issues."
It's time that we have a forward-looking plan for the industry.- WADE DABINETT, GPSA
Mr Dabinett said no-one liked to see infrastructure, that had been built to withstand the test of time, closing.
"But is it what we need for the next 10-20 years? he said. "That is why GPSA has been looking into a grain industry blueprint.
"It's time that we have a forward-looking plan for the industry, what the supply chain will look like in the next 10-20 years compared to what we have today and figure out how are we going to get there.
"Infrastructure is always going to age and deteriorate - the question is: should it have been allowed to deteriorate to the point of closure? Is there anything we can do about that? And commercially, what are we going to do to replace or renew infrastructure?
"We as an industry need to focus on what is the infrastructure we need and help growers to transition into that new supply chain."
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