87 Chifley to Attlee

Cablegram 78 CANBERRA, 15 February 1946

Your No 46 wheat and flour. [1]

The question of increasing the extraction rate for flour has been considered and the following advice is furnished.

Because of last year's drought conditions no wheat or flour were exported at all in the later months of the year and the new season opened with 'Bare Boards'. Export, therefore, could be only commenced when the new season's wheat was available and in case of flour some of it had been gristed. Added to this the season was late in many districts. Whilst export was commenced in a small way in December, it is only now that the mills are fully working and export is in full swing. The task we have set ourselves, therefore, of pressing into the months from now till June more than 2/3rd of the total years surplus is a heavy one and will require intensive concentration on inland transport and handling facilities at ports. By making available all wheat and flour that can be handled, therefore, we could not increase our shipments by June or July next by increasing the production of flour.

Looking further ahead of course an increase in our extraction rate would give us greater total export for the season, and this could be handled, as we would have ample time to ship it later in the year. In this respect however, we reason as follows. An increase in the extraction would make less bran and pollard available for pigs and poultry, and other industries now receiving wheat or wheat offals for feed. The question of extraction, therefore, resolves itself into whether we should make further inroads into stock feed with the object of increasing the total export of wheat and flour for the year. Whilst we are already contemplating some adverse effects on the pig and egg industries because of the steps we have taken we hesitate to go further until we have a clearer idea of what is involved. It seems to us that material damage to these industries might be a disservice to the food position rather than a benefit. As already noted we are exporting eggs and pig meat in considerable quantities.

No fresh pork is allowed civilians and bacon is limited. We have decided, therefore, in all the circumstances not to increase the extraction rate at present but within two months, when it will be clearer what the season is likely to be and what the decisions already made involve, we shall review the feed wheat demands with a view of deciding whether they should be reduced and the total export for the season increased. if further deductions are decided upon, they would probably take the form of withdrawing whole wheat rather than increasing extraction of flour and so in effect withdrawing bran and pollard.

1 Document 80.

[AA:A3196, 1946, 0.3175]