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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Elmore upgrade is good news for croppers

Growers responded positively to news of Emerald Grain’s $3 million upgrade to the Elmore storage site that will double its capacity.

CATHY WALKER August 11, 2014 3:10pm

The upgrade will also speed up turnaround times and accommodate larger grain trucks, including B-doubles.

Emerald Grain managing director John Murray hosted a function for croppers at Elmore Events Centre last Thursday.

Artists’ concept drawings of the improvements showed what the revamped site would look like, but growers didn’t need diagrams. They could quickly picture the best bit.

‘‘Anything that speeds up harvest time has to be a good thing,’’ Muskerry farmer Mick Byrne said.

‘‘We’ve got bigger trucks and headers — everything’s got big; we have to move with the times.’’

Mr Byrne doesn’t spend harvest in truck queues: he’s waiting in the header for the trucks to return.

But Creek View cropper Chris Nihill has spent many hours waiting to unload at Elmore and said sitting around was always the worst part of harvest; he too welcomed the Emerald investment.

Mr Murray said the investment would be judged by growers’ responses to the upgraded site.

As an incentive, anyone delivering 100tonnes or more would receive a $500 pre-paid card to spend in the community.

There was a refreshing honesty at the Emerald Grain charm offensive, when supply chain and operations group general manager Ron McCalman candidly admitted to the audience that the company had lost some currency with growers.

‘‘We had really good support when we came to the district but that support has waned; we understand that,’’ Mr McCalman said.

He said the planned upgrades were in response to feedback from local growers.

‘‘While the site delivered strong competition in the area, it did not allow as efficient truck turnaround times as growers would have liked at harvest,’’ Mr McCalman said. ‘‘We’ve taken the feedback on board.’’

The investment will include new roadways, a new sample platform and office, an extra weighbridge, and new bunkers suitable for receival from drive-over stackers.

The extra bunkers will more than double storage capacity from 50000 tonnes to 110000 tonnes.

Mr McCalman said the investment was part of Emerald Grain’s and its owner Sumitomo’s wider strategy to invest in key grain assets in south-eastern Australia which lead into its ports in Melbourne and Port Kembla.

‘‘We are committed to investment in Victoria’s supply chain to create more competition for growers’ grain,’’ Mr McCalman said.

‘‘Our aim is to provide growers with an efficient, alternative pathway to markets like Asia and the Middle East.’’

Grain from Elmore is trucked to Emerald Grain’s Melbourne port terminal, which exports up to 1.5million tonnes of grain to nearly 40 destinations a year.

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