Grains industry news in brief

Gregor Heard
By Gregor Heard
January 16 2022 - 11:00pm
Brian Hall has joined the Centrex team as general manager.

Ocean freight clear-out

The Port of Oakland, on the west coast of the US is opening a dedicated off-dock container yard to store and reallocate empty containers.

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The port authority said it was trying to increase terminal capacity and give the west coast US agricultural export community better access to containers.

US west coast ports, such as LA and Longbeach, made international news last year with hectares of stranded shipping containers placing international trade at a disadvantage.

A lack of containers caused by the west coast issues has filtered all the way through to container-dependent sectors of the Australian agricultural commodity, with many pulse exporters, among others, struggling to execute all possible export trades due to a lack of containers.

The Oakland move is backed by the US government, which is trying to address export-capacity shortages and support service restorations to the Ports of Oakland and Portland on the US west coast. to give agricultural exporters more options on the west coast and address some of the congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the US Department of Agriculture said.

Wheat for work

YOU'VE heard of working for peanuts, but for Afghani labourers being paid in food is now a reality.

The cash-strapped Taliban administration is paying workers in wheat instead of cash according to Reuters reports.

Wheat donated to the previous US-backed government, is being used to pay 40,000 workers 40 kg per five-hour working day instead of in cash, agriculture officials said.

The program mostly was being used to pay laborers on public works programs but now will be expanded around the country.

Afghanistan is facing a growing economic crisis with international sanctions on the Taliban government, a freezing of bank assets and less international assistance directed to the government.

Humanitarian aid has continued as foreign governments and NGOs attempt to prevent millions from starving, Reuters said, but is designed to bypass Afghan government channels.

Beetle plague

PROVING Australia does not have a monopoly on plagues, the inhabitants of Argentinean grain belt town have had to deal with a colossal influx of brown beetles.

Reports suggest the brown beetles, which normally provide nuisance value each summer, have bred in incredible numbers in response to intense heat.

Millions of the bugs have reportedly left the ground and taken over local houses and gardens.

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While harmless to humans, the huge numbers of the beetles can cause damage to buildings and annoyance to people out walking.

US reproaches India

28 members of the US House of Representatives have written to the World Trade Organisation pushing for a WTO case against India's domestic price support for wheat and rice production.

Indian farmers form an important source of political power in India and attempts to dismantle price support have generally struggled in the subcontinental nation.

However the US is pushing for change, saying it is a trade distorting practice.

Record production

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IN SPITE of the demand-inspired spike in grain prices in 2021 the International Grains Council (IGC) is forecasting total grains (wheat and coarse grains) production in the 2021-22 marketing year to reach an all-time high at 2.286 billion tonnes, up 71 million tonnes from last year.

This is in spite of production issues in a number of key production zones.

In its most recent grain market report, released last week, the IGC said that while production was at record levels, demand was also at its highest ever, explaining the high grain prices.

This is set to leave ending stocks down yet again year on year, at 601 million tonnes.

The IGC lowered its total grains production forecast modestly from its last report, down a million tonnes due to production issues in South American corn, which offset gains in Aussie and Argentine wheat.

One of the biggest moves in the report was a slashing in global soybean production of 12 million tonnes due to dry weather in South America, which will global bidding for oilseeds keen, although the figure is still higher than the previous year.

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Name change, appointments at Centrex

FERTILISER business Centrex has formally changed its name from Centrex Metals after the proposed change was approved by shareholders.

The business, which has its new Agriflex subsidiary and a promising new phosphate development at Ardmore near Mount Isa in Queensland, has also made some important appointments designed to drive the Ardmore development along.

Centrex has appointed commercial manager Stewart Bale and general manager Brian Hall and fertiliser industry stalwart Sam Lancuba who will provide marketing, pricing, technical and customer support to the company on a contract basis.

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Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

National Grains Industry Reporter

Gregor Heard is Fairfax Ag Media's national grains industry reporter, based in Horsham, Victoria. He has a wealth of knowledge surrounding the cropping sector through his ten years in the role. Prior to that he was with the Fairfax network as a reporter with Stock & Land. Some of the major issues he has reported on during his time with the company include the deregulation of the export wheat market, the introduction of genetically modified crops and the fight to protect growers better from grain trader insolvencies. Still involved with the family farm he is passionate about rural Australia and its people and hopes to use his role to act as an advocate for those involved in the grain sector. Away from work, he is a keen traveller, having spent his long service leave last year in Spain learning the language.

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