Tuesday, July 7, 2009

No car accidents this week and one of my footy teams won

I know I promised to give you an overview of the information regimes of some of our competitors but our normally reliable source didn’t come through - I will get back to you on it.

In this week’s newsletter we issued results of the Australian Grower Planting Survey. Apart from our survey we don't currently have a comprehensive survey of grower’s plantings. Our survey is but a small snippet required to be confident in the accuracy of the numbers - it is not statistically valid, but we are confident that the trends are usually correct, particularly on the major crops.

There is still a level of skepticism in the grower community about providing open access to information - our view is that good information makes markets work better. For example service providers can better plan for the needs of their customers who can then make better decisions based on good information. As Alan Greenspan used to say 'when the facts change so do my decisions'.

What many don't realise is that ABARE plantings estimates are a combination of expert opinion and the views of their analysts - they are not survey based. In this week's newsletter we plan to review our historical survey results to actual ABARE figures. But if the ABARE figures are not survey based then which benchmark can we use to measure our results against? A prime example is the WA canola crop last year; our survey suggested a massive increase in plantings and we produced a massive crop, but ABARE put much of this down to stellar yields rather than considering if they had under-estimated plantings.

The other gripe I have with the way ABARE approach things is that they assume all plantings are actually harvest, but we know there is often a high level of abandonment. Rather than adjusting harvested acres they just decrease yields to fit the planted number to the production estimate. So in fact they are underestimating yields on the portion that was harvest.

Don't get me wrong, I am not bashing ABARE. I think their work has improved significantly since Phil Glyde has taken over but we have a long way to go to meet the information regimes of our competitors to bring us into the 21st century. These needs will be covered in the coming weeks.


Update to last week’s rant – Information is right for all

In an update to last week’s rant, CBH has still not provided me with results of their online survey where they asked growers whether they would like CBH to release more harvest related information. They have, however, selectively released results to parts of the industry where they say the results have been 'mixed'.

Our survey conducted in conjunction with efarming of over 1000 growers was almost 90% in support of the bulk handlers releasing more 'aggregate' information. CBH are attempting to run a scare campaign suggesting that what we are requesting is the release of individual grower information which is a misleading.

Anyway because CBH disagree with my view - that they should be keeping the market more informed - they are not speaking to me anymore. But apparently I am not the only one. Exporters are highly disgruntled about the new CBH proposal on the management of shipping allocation for the upcoming year. CBH say they have consulted with industry, but apparently the conversations have been my way or the highway type stuff - no different to the experience I have been having. Are they reminding you of anything?


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