WEST PERTH, AUSTRALIA — At its Annual General Meeting in Perth, Australia on Feb. 26, the CBH Group announced that an additional A$45 million of capital and A$10 million of maintenance will be committed to improving network performance over the next 12 months off the back of the record breaking harvest in 2013-14.

CBH Group Chairman Neil Wandel told grower shareholders that the board had resolved to commit to a total network expenditure budget (including capital and maintenance) of A$185 million for 2014.

“The CBH Group invested A$155 million last financial year into enhancing the network, including throughput projects that greatly improved our ability to take in such a fast and large harvest with a minimum of disruption, the additional funding allocated today will increase that potential even further,” he said. “Last year, we completed the $17 million upgrade of the Gairdner receival site, adding 80,000 tonnes of new storage and two new weighbridges, as well as the construction of two open bulk heads at Chadwick.

“But most impressively, the team also completed 21 projects building emergency storages at several sites to deal with the extra tonnages expected over the harvest just finished.”

He also gave an overview of the CBH Group’s Grower Patronage Rebate Program, introduced in 2013 to help offset growers’ storage and handling fees, with some growers set to receive a A$2.60 per tonne reduction.

CBH Group Chief Executive Officer Andy Crane told members that the CBH Group performed well for the 2013 financial year, and that the cooperative had a critical role to play in ensuring the long-term viability of the Australian grain industry.

“The group achieved retained earnings of A$131.7 million for the 2012-13 financial year, a very strong outcome. I emphasize the term ‘retained earnings’, as it is just that, value created within the co-operative that is retained to strengthen the supply chain to market and growers’ long term viability,” he said. “Your co-operative has a clear purpose; to create and return value to growers. Today I have a post-script; over the long term. 

“The best way we can deliver this is helping growers run their own integrated supply chain to Asia, ensuring they are competitive against other origins.”

Following the meeting, Samantha Tough officially joined the board as an independent director, replacing retiring director Diane Smith-Gander and Rod Madden replaced Clancy Michael as District 1 grower-elected director.