By Boyd Champness

AWB Limited – Australias farmer-owned wheat board with the exclusive right to sell and market the nations export wheat crop – has failed to win grain grower support to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.

At AWB Ltds annual meeting in Perth earlier this month, farmers voted against a proposal which would have granted share rights to employees and relaxed rules relating to voting rights for big shareholders.

Many farmers argued that it was unfair for AWB Ltd employees to “get half the farm” simply for working for the organisation.

But the AWB Ltd hierarchy argued that the organisation would lose its best people and struggle to attract good people in future if it didnt offer a competitive share scheme like other big organisations.

AWB chairman Trevor Flugge last week criticised farmers in The Weekly Times for not supporting the move, adding that the outcome had shaken investor confidence.

“Growers at the annual meeting commented they dont care about the value of the shares and just want a good price for their wheat,” he told the newspaper.

“Confidence in the future of the AWB has been dampened.

“I guess investors will now be asking: Will this company be dominated by agripolitical issues or commercial considerations,” he said.

Its now unlikely that AWB Ltd will be able to list before 2001.