Northern Rivers growers say rice industry ‘monopoly’ obstructing their growth

Northern Rivers rice growers who misplaced half their crops within the latest floods say they’ve been dealt one other blow.  

The New South Wales authorities introduced the only rice marketing desk would be prolonged for 5 years, blocking northern NSW growers from accessing export markets. 

The choice follows a five-yearly evaluate into rice vesting preparations by the NSW Department of Primary Industries. 

The choice has been welcomed by Riverina rice growers, who produce 98 per cent of Australia’s rice crop and largely provide to SolarRice, which holds the nation’s sole export licence with the Rice Marketing Board. 

Steve Rogers kneeling in a rice crop.
Natural Rice Company’s Steven Rodgers says Northern Rivers rgrowers must proceed to depend on the home market.(ABC Rural: Kim Honan, file)

But, Steven Rogers from the Northern Rivers’ Natural Rice Company mentioned he was shocked and disenchanted that the present vesting preparations would be retained. 

“The rice industry in Australia is only a monopoly and anybody else making an attempt to step into that industry simply tends to get pushed again a lot that they now not exist,” Mr Rogers mentioned. 

A close-up of a soggy rice crop
Northern Rivers growers say the choice to retain a single rice marketing desk is a kick within the guts for flood-impacted growers. (ABC North Coast: Kim Honan)

Unlike rice grown within the Riverina, northern NSW rice is grown without irrigation, with crops relying solely on summer season rain. 

Mr Rogers mentioned this gave them a degree of distinction that importers have been very curious about. 

“The world is searching for our form of rice … that low-emissions, low-water-usage rice, for their sustainability.

He estimated that half the area’s crops had been misplaced within the report floods seven weeks in the past. 

Single desk presents the scale to compete in a worldwide market

The NSW DPI evaluate discovered there was “no conclusive proof” that vesting, by the restriction of export competitors, was delivering larger prices for NSW rice exports.

It added that the present unique export licence holder, SolarRice, was anticipated to get pleasure from ongoing assist from nearly all of its growers, a lot of whom personal a monetary and controlling stake within the firm. 

NSW Agricultural Minister Dugald Saunders mentioned the choice to retain a single rice marketing desk supplied certainty to most growers.

“The suggestions I received very wholeheartedly from growers was that they just like the vesting preparations as they’re,” Mr Saunders mentioned. 

A large industrial shed with two signs in front.
SolarRice has held a sole and unique export licence settlement with the Rice Marketing Board since 2006.(ABC Rural: Cara Jeffery)

He mentioned that by the Rice Marketing Board and their settlement with SolarRice, there was just one level of contact for consumers and sellers of Australian rice. 

“If you break up that up and have completely different gamers within the area, what it does is presumably weaken your capability to get the very best value abroad.

However, he acknowledged that modifications may very well be made to enhance alternatives for different rice-growing areas, saying an impartial report into a few of the points raised by the NSW DPI evaluate.   

“Part of the idea of doing a evaluate is to have a look at what’s going to work for each southern and northern growers, to make certain there’s a future for each events. 

Bumper harvest within the Riverina 

Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia president Rob Massina, from Finley within the Riverina, mentioned they welcomed the impartial report. 

“That’s about adapting to vary and recognising what’s required for the rice industry sooner or later,” Mr Massina mentioned. 

Mr Massina mentioned rice markets internationally have been closely managed by governments globally. 

“Gaining scale from an Australian rice industry to go and compete in numerous markets and at completely different occasions, may give nice worth to the rice grower.”

Header in a rice crop
The Riverina has skilled a bumper harvest thus far, following nice situations throughout the rising season.(Supplied: Ricegrowers Association )

Unlike the flood-damaged Northern Rivers, the Riverina is at present experiencing a bumper rice harvest, with the entire tonnage delivered predicted to be near 700,000 tonnes.

Mr Massina mentioned that was greater than 10 occasions what was produced in latest seasons that have been marred by drought and low water availability. 

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