WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA — The CBH Group announced on Aug. 30 that it will keep its total storage and handling charges flat for the third season in a row, maintaining Western Australia as the best value grain export supply chain in Australia.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Crane said the decision to hold the benchmark cost of using the CBH supply chain to A$27.10 a tonne demonstrated the real benefits to growers and the grain industry of the Grain Express logistics co-ordination system and the major program of initiatives underway at CBH to lift efficiency and effectiveness.

It also underlined to growers the value of having a supply chain managed by their own cooperative, CBH said.

"The decision comes despite the significant increase in costs that CBH faces for electricity, fuel, labor and other inputs and the prospect of a well below-average harvest which will increase the fixed costs per tonne of our network," Crane said.

"The CBH Group is unique among major Australian grain companies in existing to maximize returns to growers. We understand the challenges many growers are facing due to their own rising costs and the difficult season in many areas and we want to deliver as much value to them as possible while ensuring we can deliver the services they need into the future.

"Other major bulk handlers in Australia have recently announced significant increases in their fees for 2010-11, reflecting their different priorities.

"Our decision also gives growers and marketers the opportunity to further understand the major restructure of our charges we implemented last year to provide greater simplicity and transparency."

CBH Group Chairman Neil Wandel said the maintenance of total storage and handling fees at the same level for the third year in a row demonstrated the CBH board's commitment to putting growers' interests first.

"We are the only major grain organization that remains grower-owned and controlled and where all our business decisions are wholly driven by the best long-term interests of growers," Wandel said.

Under the 2010-11 schedule, the benchmark charge for the CBH supply chain from receival to shipping will remain at A$27.10 at tonne (based on wheat delivered to a Tier 1 site). The receival fee will remain A$10 a tonne and the shipping fee will remain A$17.10 for grain delivered either direct to port or through the Grain Express system managed by CBH. Growers can access details of all charges in the Harvest Handbook to be delivered in September.