Monday, August 24, 2009

Now look who’s calling for more information

The email I received from CBH late Friday afternoon was a breathtaking exercise in hypocrisy. For those that missed it, CBH released a special ‘Down the Line’ e-newsletter late last week where they URGENTLY called on growers to submit their crop estimates.

It read ‘With a potentially big harvest less than six weeks away, we still have only 50% of crop estimates submitted. This is a serious concern for our operations staff. If we were to plan harvest services from the information we have received to date, we would be opening only 80 of the State’s 197 receival sites.’

They will get no argument from me that this type of information is required to promote efficiency, but it is a curious comment from a company who doesn’t think there is a need to disseminate information to other industry participants to aid their planning.

Prior to completing the survey, growers should be thinking about who will gain access to it? Is it just CBH operations? And if CBH were fair dinkum about promoting competition (which would benefit their grower members), they should publicly release this information to the market so that everyone else can get on with their planning.

Remember Grain Pool (formerly Agracorp and part of the CBH Group) was the biggest cash buyers at harvest time last year, so why would you (the farmer) potentially want to create an information advantage for one of more than 20 organisations looking to buy grain from you this year? Does the muted response to the survey by growers finally recognize that this information could be used against them?

Some perceive that I am launching a crusade to improve industry information for my own benefit. A CBH Director has publicly made this claim. But apart from the claim being totally baseless (it is not like I will be able to inside trade with this info), why would a CBH Director accuse me of this? Think about it - is it he that accuses, trying to veil the vested interest of the company he represents?

What vested interest can ProFarmer possibly derive, from asking for the public release of high-level information to the marketplace? All I want is better information so I can give qualified, independent advice to my grower subscribers - I hate guessing. Unless growers derive benefit from my advice I don’t have a business, no-one is forced to become a ProFarmer member. I am not asking for an advantage over any other market participant competing against me.

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