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SunRice starting price rewards and encourages growers

SunRice has announced rates for the 2014 crop, which has instilled confidence in ricegrowers.

April 2, 2014 4:30am

A higher than normal interim first payment rate for this year’s rice crop is expected to auger well for next year’s season, according to growers.

SunRice announced the rates for the 2014 crop on Monday.

The higher interim first payment rates include $276 per tonne for SunRice’s premium Sushi variety, Koshihikari, and $200 per tonne for the medium grain variety, Reiziq.

In addition to the first payment at harvest time, SunRice schedules five further payments over the course of the marketing year.

Ricegrowers Association of Australia Berriquin branch president Warren Lang said the payment price not only allows growers to recover this year’s costs, it helps instil confidence in the industry going forward.

‘‘It gives confidence in growing rice for at least the next few years,’’ he said.

‘‘The price is matching up with cost levels and sales are looking good.

‘‘Timing is always very valuable for growers, and if there is a strong first payment it usually indicates the remaining payments will be good too.’’

Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman John Bradford, a rice grower himself, said the interim first payment price means ‘‘dedicated rice growers are being rewarded’’.

‘‘When we started sowing in October water was selling for $60 a megalitre and the projection was that the end price for rice would be $260 per tonne.

‘‘For the first payment (for Reiziq) to be $200, it means there is so much more confidence in the industry.

‘‘A lot of farmers have been questioning what they are going to do next year because of the high water price; this announcement is a real confidence boost.

‘‘Even if the water stays at $60 to $70 per megalitre, this good price should help farmers make their decision.’’

SunRice chairman Gerry Lawson said the rates were significantly higher for all varieties than the first payment rates for the previous crop.

He said it reflects the positive market outlook for the year ahead and the company’s focus on innovation and continuous improvement.

Mr Lawson said it was very pleasing to announce higher interim first payment rates for all the company’s varieties, and in particular the specialty varieties.

‘‘We are experiencing increased demand for our Sushi varieties, Koshihikari and Opus, as well as for our Jasmine fragrant varieties, Kyeema and YRF209,’’ he said.

‘‘We will no doubt be calling on our growers to increase production of these varieties in the next crop to be planted later this year.’’

Mr Lawson advised that if there was any change to the interim first payment rates when the 2014 crop budget has been finalised, a top-up payment will be made.

The first payment is expected to be paid to growers within a fortnight of the completion of harvest.

Mr Lang said there was a good indication rice yield will be positive this season, but said it won’t be known until harvest was in full swing.

‘‘Harvesting has started on a small scale and I would anticipate it will step up next week, weather permitting,’’ he said.

‘‘We are all waiting to see how yield will go.

‘‘Establishment conditions were far from what we would have liked. The heat did come, but we still don’t know it if came in time.

‘‘We have confidence it will be okay; the general consensus is that it has been a good average season.’’

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