New grain plan needed

Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP) have supported an appeal to the state government and Grain Producers SA (GPSA) to develop a new plan for grain storage, handling and logistics on the Eyre Peninsula.

The Eyre Peninsula Bulk Handling Cooperative (EPCBH) first called for urgent leadership and action to develop a comprehensive strategic framework in the wake of the closure of Viterra's rail contract and the closure of some silo storage sites.

EPCBH chairperson and grain producer Bruce Heddle wrote to Member for Flinders Peter Treloar requesting immediate action in light of recent closures, various port proposals, new bunker facilities and road impacts.

"We are dealing with lots of different issues at once," he said.

"There are complex interactions with the closure of the rail, ageing infrastructure, and the state government investment into roads - it all needs a big picture look.

"Once again, we are asking that the state government and GPSA show leadership and allocate the appropriate resources to put in place a plan that can confer some certainty, so that all of the industry and government can invest and pursue increased efficiencies with confidence."

Mr Heddle said while GPSA were conducting a statewide blueprint for grain handling and logistics, the Eyre Peninsula's issues were more "pressing".

"I think Grain Producers SA are the best placed to represent the industry," he said.

"In discussions with GPSA and Caroline Rhodes, she told us they are coming up with a blueprint and I'm fully supportive of that....but the problems the EP faces, the issues are a little more pressing.

"The magnitude of change we're facing...issues need to be dealt with differently."

Mr Heddle said the EPCBH would "be of whatever assistance to get this to happen", and that all three tiers of government should have a vested interest in the outcome.

"A poorly planned response could be worse than no change at all," he said.

He said there was a disparity in grain prices and costs on the Eyre Peninsula compared to other grain producing areas, despite the EP producing up to 40 percent of the state's total grain production.

RDAWEP chief executive officer Dion Dorward said he echoed the EPCBH's appeal.

Member for Flinders Peter Treloar said despite a number of freight studies relevant to the Eyre Peninsula, he acknowledged the area is "faced with a new freight task".

He said grain flows were likely to change as a result of the Eyre Peninsula rail line closure.

"The announcements by Viterra that some silos would not be opening this harvest - and other potential storage and shipping options will have grain producers closely examining what are best the best options for their business," he said.

"I have been in ongoing discussions regarding freight movements on EP with the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Stephan Knoll for some months now.

"The state and federal governments have committed funds to road upgrades, and I will be writing to the minister urging DPTI to engage fully with councils, Regional Development, the grain industry and transport industry in order to prioritise this expenditure."