Rice growers to reap rewards from bypassing monopoly

Rice growers are set for a significant boost after the NSW government pledged to allow them to negotiate their own export agreements and bypass the market controlled by a single multinational.

Farmers in the state's Northern Rivers region are currently forced to send their produce approximately 800km south to the Riverina, where Australia's main rice player Sunrice is based.

But the new legislation unveiled by Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty on Monday will allow growers to directly access export markets, opening the $219 million per year sector up to major expansion prospects.

"The NSW government is committed to creating new business opportunities for the state’s agricultural sector and we are taking action to do that for the rice industry by listening to their needs, cutting red tape and assisting growers expand their export potential," she said.

“We are both recognising the needs and value of the established growers in the south and opening up opportunities for the emerging sector in the Northern Rivers."

The government says it will keep existing vesting arrangement processes in place for southern growers, with a review due by mid-2029.

The vast majority of NSW rice is grown in the southern region, with roughly 97 to 99 per cent of production occurring within the three irrigation regions of the Murrumbidgee, Coleambally and Murray.

But it is hoped the new legislation will help grow the production of farmers in the Richmond Valley and Tweed Valley regions further north.

NSW makes up almost the entirety of the nation's rice production.

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