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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - At talks at Ottawa involving the 5 major wheat exporting countries - Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Argentine and the European Economic Community - figures showed that last year stock holdings of wheat went up by about 900 million bushels, an increase of almost 50%, to well over 2,000 million bushels. The forecasts for this year are that the increase will be only about 200 million bushels. It is anticipated that in 1971 we may see, for the first time since 1965, a decline in world stockpiles of wheat. We must consider this against the background that Australia has imposed a deliveries quota reducing by 40% the amount of wheat that can be delivered as against deliveries of two seasons ago. It also must be remembered that the United States has its lowest wheat acreage allotment since the 1930s. The allotment is 45.5 million acres. This will be further reduced next year by 2 million acres. In Canada there has been a quota system operating for many years. Canada is now introducing what is known as 'operation lift' to try to reduce the inventory by paying farmers not to produce wheat. In fact the Canadian Minister has said that he would be happy if no wheat at all was produced this year. In Argentine there has not been any increase in production because of a number of reasons. In the European Economic Community, although the authorities are not taking action to curtail production, they do have in hand certain reconstruction proposals and they do not expect their exports of wheat to increase in the next 3 years. The situation there will remain stable.

With those facts in mind I am optimistic enough to hope that we might not have to cut back much further our present delivery quotas. However I say that whilst bearing very much in mind that we will have to keep a close watch on our own stock holdings, the world situation and weather conditions, so that we produce only what we can actually sell.

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