THE Grains Research and Development Corporation has pledged more than $17.5 million over four years to Grains Australia Limited to bolster the competitiveness and profitability of the nation’s grain sector across the value chain in domestic and international markets.
Established by GRDC in 2020, Grains Australia delivers industry-good services and functions on behalf of the grains sector.
That includes classification, trade and market access, market information and education with the aim of ensuring Australia has a collaborative and unified approach.
Looking ahead, Grains Australia will focus on key programs to deliver benefits to growers including development of markets including feedgrain into Indonesia, malting barley into Brazil, and further improvement of variety classification systems for wheat, barley and oats.
Grains Australia has plans to develop an industry-first pulse classification framework which will add value to the pulse industry by enabling Australian product to be differentiated in key export markets and deliver greater returns for growers in the long term.
Grains Australia CEO Richard Simonaitis said the introduction of a pulse-classification system would provide an opportunity to improve product consistency and emphasis on the quality characteristics of Australian pulses that are sought after by consumers.
“The first phase of this work will be focused on an Australian lentil-classification framework that can be used as a basis for other pulse crops, generating additional value from the initial investment,” Mr Simonaitis said.
“Early in 2023, we will appoint a specialist steering committee to consider how the classification system will meet the needs of key markets for Australian lentils, what customers in those markets want, and how to communicate those quality characteristics.”
Grains Australia has most recently established a national oats council, and since its inception has seen the integration of: Wheat Quality Australia; the Grains Industry Market Access Forum; Barley Australia, and the National Working Party on Grain Protection.
Investment needed as markets change
GRDC chair and north-west New South Wales grain grower John Woods made the funding announcement this week, and said the decision to invest in Grains Australia was a critical, considered move to support the sector’s long-term competitiveness and profitability.
“During the most recent season we faced harvest challenges and crop downgrades in eastern Australian and supply chain issues in the west, so it is more apparent than ever that consolidating ‘industry good’ functions and services is critical for our industry,” Mr Woods said.
“Marketplace dynamics are changing, and national and international markets and supply chain logistics continue to be volatile and challenging and are likely to remain that way into the future.
“There has never been a more important time to have a collaborative and unified approach. Grains Australia is leading the way for the industry and playing a core role in managing variety classification, market access, market information and education.
“In these changing times it is imperative we have an in-depth understanding of markets and classification preferences, and equally important that we have a mechanism for relaying that information back to the entire grains supply chain so our sector can proactively respond to market trends.”
Grains Australia chair Terry Enright said the formation of Grains Australia by GRDC in 2020 was an important investment in the future for the nation’s growers.
“In establishing Grains Australia, GRDC recognised the need for an industry organisation that works across functions to bring value across the entire supply chain,” Mr Enright said.
“Now GRDC’s decision to continue investing in the work of Grains Australia means we can continue to deliver the critical functions required to support the Australian grains industry’s development and profitability.
“We service the connection between what the market wants and what the industry can provide, enabling a value exchange between Australian growers and our end-users around the world.”
ABARES figures indicate Australia’s grains sector is worth $16.7 billion on average each year, and produces around 46.8 million tonnes of grain annually.
GRDC is one of Australia’s 15 rural R&D corporations, and is responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing R&D and extension for 25 leviable grain crops.
Thumbs up from GPA
Grain Producers Australia has welcomed the announcement, and GPA deputy chair, south-west Queensland grower, and grower representative on the Grains Australia Advisory Committee, Andrew Earle, said the funding commitment provided a level of certainty to support GAL’s continued evolution.
Mr Earle said it allowed continuity for Grains Australia to further consolidate industry-good functions and increase necessary capacity building with more professional staff and technical expertise.
However, he said the organisation had to ensure it delivered genuine outcomes and demonstrated results, which increased the value of Australian grains and boosted returns for Australian grain producers.
“GPA backed the initial establishment of Grains Australia with the use of grower levies to achieve shared goals of increasing market access and efficiencies, to boost the profitability, sustainability and international competitiveness of the Australian grains industry,” Mr Earle said.
“This funding is another step towards achieving these outcomes – not only for growers but also across the industry.
“This also improves economic returns for rural communities and the economy.
“GPA will continue acting as a strong voice advocating for growers in this evolution process and to ensure growers remain central to Grains Australia’s structure, goals and objectives.”
Source: GRDC, GPA