Five more years of vesting

Members of SunRice, the RGA, and state and federal Coalition members attended the announcement at Deniliquin’s SunRice mill on Tuesday.

The NSW Government has announced a five year extension on its rice vesting arrangement with the NSW Rice Marketing Board.

The agreememt has been welcomed by SunRice Group, which gives the RMB licence for ‘sole and exclusive’ export on all rice grown in NSW, sold under the SunRice brand.

NSW produces 99 per cent of the country’s rice.

“As our Riverina rice growers harvest the largest crop in five years, this decision from the New South Wales Government is a major vote of confidence in our industry and will enable SunRice to continue to navigate increasingly complex global rice markets,” SunRice chairman Laurie Arthur said.

RGA vice president Angela Urquhart runs a mixed cropping farm with her husband south of Finley, and said extending the vesting agreement would be beneficial to Southern Riverina growers.

SunRice Deniliquin site manager Craig Bulmer explains to visitors federal Senator Perin Davey and NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders how rice is sorted at the mill.

The agreement primarily promotes competitiveness in overseas markets - currently numbering 50 for the brand - where rice is predominantly exported.

Australia recently adopted a free trade deal with the United Kingdom, which imports 100 per cent of its rice.

SunRice is working on similar trade deals with Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

Duty MLC for Murray and National Party member Wes Fang attended the announcement in Deniliquin last week, along with NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders.

“We grow some of the best rice in the world right here, and when we market it under a single brand, that maximises the return for the growers here. And that return is then spent locally,” Mr Fang said.

“So maximizing that return for what is some of the best rice in the world is important to us, because it's important to our communities.”

While the industry suffered somewhat during the 2020/21 financial year due to a range of factors including COVID-19 and weather patterns, SunRice has recorded its largest crop in five years for 2021/22.

The Rice Growers’ Association of Australia Inc has also approved of the agreement because it provides “security” to rice farmers.

RGA president and local ricegrower Rob Massina said an “overwhelming majority” of rice farmers were in favour of the extension.

Rice grains being sorted based on size, colour and quality.

“It was these sentiments supported by motions from all RGA branches and further research into the benefits that guided the RGA’s submission into the review in support of the continuation. Members were also encouraged to have their own say about the marketing arrangements of rice in New South Wales,” said Mr Massina.

The exclusivity agreement has been in place since 1983.

The NSW Government plans to commission an additional report to consider issues raised in the 2021 Review into the rice industry.

Mr Massina has called on the state government to “engage early” with stakeholders and experts in the field.

“It will be essential for the consultants to have a thorough knowledge of how rice is traded globally and in Australia,” he said.

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders, Duty MLC for Murray Wes Fang, Deputy Premier Paul Toole, SunRice chairman Laurie Arthur, federal Senator for NSW Perin Davey and Rice Growers’ Association chair Rob Massina.