A CENTRAL Queensland grain producer is exasperated at the lack of truck delivery slots at the port of Mackay, which he says is making it increasingly difficult to deliver his grain directly to port, a process which is around $20 a tonne cheaper than going to an upcountry depot.
Brian Gregg, who farms at Dysart, north-east of GrainCorp’s central Queensland upcountry delivery network, said he has been delivering his grain direct to port for around 25 years as it was markedly cheaper than going against the freight to deliver into the upcountry network.
“I have grain contracted to a buyer, and I have a freight delivery number and the same as any other grain transporter I ring up to book a slot.”
“This year, it has become very difficult with restrictions, the only delivery periods are in the morning.”
“GrainCorp have said this is due to more trains coming through, but we’re seeing a real squeeze in delivery spots for trucks.”
“In other years, when a train has been coming, you haven’t been able to deliver from say 10am to 2pm, this year there are no spots after 10am, which makes it difficult for us to organise logistically.”
“It would be good if there were provisions made for road as well as rail deliveries in their scheduling, because it is not practical for growers in the Dysart area to deliver to the depots against the freight.”
He said GrainCorp had also raised concerns about insufficient storage at the port with higher levels of road deliveries.
“The trains are being scheduled, so they know the tonnages coming in, there are vessels being loaded, so I would have thought this is something that could be managed.”
“We could deliver to the upcountry depots no problems, but it is a significantly higher cost.”
Mr Gregg said it cost him about $30 a tonne in freight to go direct to port, as opposed to around $25/t to go back to the nearest sites at either Capella, in the Gladstone port zone, or Mount McLaren, in the Mackay zone.
“From the upcountry sites, you pay $25/t to get it there, then another $23-4/t to get it back to port, with a storage and handling cost lobbed in on top, it can easily work out at $20/t more expensive.”
“It just seems illogical to have to take grain up only for it to come straight back past us.”
For its part, GrainCorp said it was working to provide a balance for its customers at the port.
“This year there has been an increase in the use of rail to accumulate for export vessels,” a spokesman said.
“This is a positive outcome because rail is a safer and more efficient path to export.”
“Given the increase in rail, there has been an associated reduction in available slots for road delivery to the port.”