Thursday 20th Sep, 2018

Instability for grain trade on both sides of the Pacific

Photo: Australian Wheat Board
Photo: Australian Wheat Board

MORE than 850 delegates from 14 nations at the Australian Grains Industry Conference have been challenged to prepare for ‘more market place disruption than ever before’.

That was the warning from US speaker, Sara Wyant, who this week addressed the Australian Grains Industry Conference at Melbourne’s Crown Promenade hotel.

A reporter and analyst, Ms Wyant is president of Agri-Pulse Communications which broadcasts farm and rural policy news from Washington, D.C.

Ms Wyant said Australian farm businesses were facing similar obstacles and challenges to those in the USA.

Some of the trends she noted included:

  • Consumers demanding greater transparency, more information and food data;
  • More consumer interest in branded commodity products;
  • Farmers embracing data for efficiency, sustainability and traceability;
  • More company mergers and takeovers, like the recent ChemChina-Syngenta and Bayer-Monsanto mergers and Amazon buying organic grocery supplier, Whole Foods.

Speaking on the global outlook following the election of President Donald Trump, Ms Wyant said the President was still popular with US farmers.

“They appreciated the President’s commitment to reduce regulation and his public support of National Agriculture Day and the farm sector, and we’ve also seen the formation of a Taskforce on Rural Prosperity which is due to report back in October,” Ms Wyant said.

“However they are nervous about the President’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement which starts this month, and they want him to follow a ‘do no harm’ policy where trade access is concerned.”

Like Australians, farmers in the USA are also said to be suffering from weather extremes, with corn crops under water in the east but grain crops devastated by drought and bushfires in the west.

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