Farmer-owned grain storage facility earmarked for Bridgewater

A farmer-owned grain storage facility has been mooted for Bridgewater in a move which could deliver vital cost savings for the region’s growers.

The $1.5 million proposal, which will operate under a farmer co-operative model, is a response to spiralling transport cost during harvest following the closure of Graincorp’s silo site in the area in 2014. 

Around 40 farmers attended a meeting at the Bridgewater Recreation Reserve on Tuesday evening, and 100 producers are said to be interested in the proposal.

Grain transporter Brendan Maher said during peak harvest, which runs from late November through December, the average grower would do 60 trips to silos in the region, some of which were 70 kilometres away, at a cost of around $10,000.

“It’s more about trying to keep up. If a weather event comes through and they (farmers) haven't been able to get the grain off - the loss could be tenfold that ($10,000),” he said. 

The site could hold up to 60,000 tonnes of grain, and Mr Maher is hopeful of future value-adding opportunities for local growers, including containerising grain on site. 

“Talking to local people, they have been upset about how Graincorp shut its facility down,” he said. 

“People haven't been able to get serviced as they would like to be.” 

Graincorp closed a number of smaller silo sites across Australia in 2014, which coincided with its "Project Regeneration" - a plan to spend $200 million upgrading major silo sites.

Mr Maher said local farmers have felt the cost impost ever since, with on-farm silo storage proving expensive for many.

A number of plots of land in the Bridgewater area are being considered, with the storage facility expected to service farmers from Wedderburn to Raywood.

And the farmer-owned model will be based on a similar facility operating near Boort, Mr Maher said.

A further meeting will be held at the Bridgewater Recreation Reserve on October 10 and no timeline has yet been placed on the development. 

Victorian Farmers Federation vice president Brett Hosking said large amounts of pooled grain could also be more attractive to grain buyers. 

“It gives the grower that bit more control of the supply chain,” he said.

However, the grain grower did suggest some farmers preferred to store grain on their farms.