CBH members enjoy record pay-out after bumper Aussie harvest

CBH Group, Australia's largest grain handler, paid a record rebate to its farmer-members, after a bin-busting harvest.

CBH reported a pre-rebate surplus of A$110.2m, up 10.6% year on year, after taking in a record volume of grain Western Australia.

The high volumes are good news for farmers, who will get a record rebate from the co-operative, injecting money back into the Australian farming economy.

The higher returns allowed CHB to increase the rebate it pays to its grower members to a record A$62.7m, up from A$16.9m paid last year.

Due to the higher rebate, CBH's net profits were cut to A$49.8m, down 66% year-on-year.

Bumper harvest

The booming profits reflect the surprisingly large size of the Western Australian harvest.

Frosts in August and September prompted CBH to forecast the size of the total grain harvest at 13-14m tonnes.

But the crop beat expectations, and by a wide margin, with more than 16m tonnes of grain delivered to CBH as of the end of last month.

Grain handling business increased

CBH's operations unit was boosted by the large crop, delivering an A$100.9m surplus before the rebates were paid out.

The co-operative has made additional investments in its grain handling infrastructure, adding 800,000 tonnes of storage capacity.

And the co-operatives marketing and trading business swing back into profit, despite lower grain prices, thanks to the high volumes.

Benefits of membership

CBH boss Andrew Crane was upbeat on rebate prospects in coming years, saying that the company has enough capital to run its business, and would be able to return surpluses to its members.

A steady flow of rebates will reward the co-operative's members, who shrugged off a A$1bn overture from a consortium backed by GrainCorp last year.

The consortium abandoned a takeover bid last September, due to lack of interest from members.

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