17 August 2001

Weigh charges No?

WEIGHBRIDGE charges are unnecessary, unfair and recent rises of 40% are unjustified, says Bedfordshire grower and NFU cereals committee member Peter Kendall.

"The simplest thing would be to scrap them altogether and reflect it in the grain price," he says, adding that charges can vary from nothing to over £10 per load.

More and more UK growers, including many of Mr Kendalls near neighbours, are refusing to pay them, he says.

A zero-rate weighbridge charge is one of the measures the NFU is encouraging growers to make to improve their end of the bargain when negotiating grain contracts.

Mr Kendalls comments come hot on the heels of last weeks launch of the Cereal Sellers Checklist by the NFU, NFUS, UKASTA, HGCA and other grain chain players including millers and maltsters associations (Business, Aug 10).

"You can arrange that you dont pay the charges. Its also important to establish in advance how much will be deducted for claims and allowances, and thats also negotiable," says Mr Kendall.

Another approach is to opt for averaging, so grain quality is averaged over all loads delivered to a particular destination, he says. That can be done if there is a good relationship between buyer and seller.

He also emphasises the importance of knowing the sample and agreeing a spec that can be achieved. "If you have below feed bushel weight, be honest about it. You can often still negotiate feed value."

The NFU is also producing a guide to the charges, claims and allowances growers should expect to pay. "If you get penalised for sub-standard grain, why shouldnt you be paid bonuses for grain delivered above spec, as with oilseed contracts?" says NFU crops advisor Paul Ibbott.

"It can be well worth holding out for a good deal. The merchant will fight it, but keep your nerve and stand your ground. Hell need your business more than ever this year." &#42

CEREAL SELLERS CHECKLIST

&#8226 Sell to a spec you know you can meet.

Check the terms carefully.

Agree details of rejection terms.

Check the contract is as you agreed.

Check assurance requirements.

Agree the scale of allowances.

Look out for special terms.

Try inserting your own special terms.

Keep a sample from every load.

Check lorries before loading.

Do not accept a sale if the buyer ignores contractual procedure.

If you dispute a claim, get your sample independently tested.

SELLERS CHECKLIST

&#8226 Sell to a spec you know you can meet.

&#8226 Check the terms carefully.

&#8226 Agree details of rejection terms.

&#8226 Check the contract is as you agreed.

&#8226 Check assurance requirements.

&#8226 Agree the scale of allowances.

&#8226 Look out for special terms.

&#8226 Try inserting your own special terms.

&#8226 Keep a sample from every load.

&#8226 Check lorries before loading.

&#8226 Do not accept a sale if the buyer ignores contractual procedure.

&#8226 If you dispute a claim, get your sample independently tested.