Wheat: soft yields to hard

Photo of a stalk of wheat

There has been a complete turnaround in the type of wheat produced in Australia.

Figures tabled at the conference by Vince Alisauskas of AWB Ltd show how significant the change has been. In 1980, the ratio of hard-grained wheat to soft-grained was 20:80. Today it is 85:15.

This has successfully positioned Australian wheat not only in Asian markets but also in the Middle East and other hard-grained wheat purchasing areas.

Subsidies and marketing are still a concern for Australian growers who have accepted the twin ideologies of open markets and little or no government subsidies to the industry. The recent breakdown of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle on agriculture among other things guarantees that the status quo is likely to continue for the time being.

Mr Alisauskas said government support for farmers in Australia equated to 7 per cent of farm income compared with 22 per cent in the USA and 16 per cent in Canada. "These two countries are the major competitors to Australia for sales of wheat," he said.