News

People on the move in the grains and cropping sector

Grain Central, December 2, 2019

Who is on the move in the Australian grains and cropping industry? Catch up with our latest update of industry appointments, rewards, retirements and achievements.

  • New CEO for Birchip Cropping Group
  • Jefferies to stand down from GRDC
  • Jarrott heads Warakirri’s DAF
  • Associated Grain appoints southern trader
  • Mungbean researcher life membership
  • Fiona Nash joins GrainGrowers Board
  • QFF appoints new CEO and president
  • WA plant geneticist’s national award
  • New Future Farmers Board members
  • Ag leaders inducted into Academy
  • Young WA leader awards
  • Rabobank bolsters succession team
  • WA resurrects Soil Conservation Council
  • Harfield joins Glencore in SA

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New BCG CEO Fiona Best and BCG chairman John Ferrier.

New CEO for Birchip Cropping Group

THE Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) in Victoria has appointed Fiona Best as its new chief executive officer, replacing former CEO Chris Sounness.

BCG Board chairman, John Ferrier, said Ms Best’s appointment would ensure BCG maintained its position at the forefront of agricultural research, development and extension while retaining a razor-sharp focus on the needs of local growers.

Ms Best has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hon) and Bachelor Commerce through University of Melbourne and a Graduate Diploma Education (Secondary). Her qualifications led her to BCG as the Farming Systems Economist in 2001.

She was formerly a leading teacher developing and delivering the agricultural component for VCE students at Tyrrell College, Sea Lake.

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Jefferies to stand down from GRDC

THE Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) managing director Dr Steve Jefferies will step down in mid-2020.

Steve Jefferies

The GRDC Board has commenced an extensive international recruitment process for a new GRDC managing director.

GRDC chair John Woods says that after four years leading GRDC, and 35 years serving the Australian grains industry, Dr Jefferies was looking forward to moving into semi-retirement and spending more time with family.

“GRDC has been through a great deal of change and has evolved under Steve’s stewardship,” he said.

“With a new purpose, new strategy, bolstering our regional approach and leading the execution of the 2018-23 five-year RD&E plan, Steve’s commitment to the grains industry and understanding of our growers has been key to GRDC’s realignment and delivering impact to our growers.”

Mr Woods said Mr Jefferies’s leadership had resulted in major re-design and the organisation was now extremely well placed for the future.

“Implementation of the RD&E Plan is well advanced and is a priority across the entire GRDC business,” he said.

“An international search is underway to find a successor who will build on and enhance GRDC’s ability to deliver on purpose, not re-design it.”

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Jarrott heads Warakirri’s DAF

WARAKIRRI Asset Management has appointed Steve Jarrott as portfolio manager for its Diversified Agriculture Fund (DAF).

Steve Jarrott

Mr Jarrott was previously Australian portfolio manager with Westchester, the agricultural investment arm of the US-based TIAA-Nuveen Group, the world’s largest farmland investment manager.

Warakirri’s head of cropping and diversified agriculture Adrian Goonan said Warakirri was thrilled to have Mr Jarrott join the team.

“Steve will be responsible for leading the fund, including supporting further capital-raising efforts, strategy refinement and implementation, asset acquisitions and portfolio management,” Mr Goonan said.

DAF opened in May, and is targeting investment across sectors including grapes, citrus, nuts, berries and tropical fruits, as well as agricultural infrastructure.

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Associated Grain appoints southern trader

ASSOCIATED Grain has appointed Mostyn Gregg as a senior pulse trader.

Mostyn Gregg

Based in Melbourne, Mr Gregg is working closely with the Associated Grain team based at Dalby on Queensland’s Darling Downs, and with the company’s parent, Singapore-based Agrocorp International.

Mr Gregg said the new role would keep him in touch with growers, traders and export customers. His appointment is Agrocorp’s first in southern Australia.

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Mungbean researcher life membership

THE Australian Mungbean Association has awarded life membership to Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ (DAF) Dr Rex Williams in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the mungbean industry.

Dr Williams studied at the University of Queensland (UQ), graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science then completing his PhD entitled ‘A study of the causes of, and selection for resistance to, weather damage in mungbean’.

While at UQ he worked under the guidance of AMA lifetime members Professor Bob Lawn and Dr Bruce Imrie, contributing to the development and launch of Australia’s first dull-seeded mungbean variety, Satin.

Dr Williams first worked as a lucerne breeder with NSW DPI for 19 years. While based at Yanco, and then Tamworth, he bred and released the varieties Aquarius, Genesis, Venus and Pegasis.

When he moved back to Queensland from NSW 14 years ago he joined DAF as a wheat breeder.

Since 2007 he has worked as director of the Queensland Government’s tropical crop improvement research, involved with crops such as mungbeans, chickpea, peanuts, sorghum and barley.

AMA life member Dr Rex Williams (centre) with his wife Carol and son Michael.

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Fiona Nash joins GrainGrowers Board

FIONA Nash has been appointed as a non-grower Director to the GrainGrowers board following an extensive executive search.

Fiona Nash

Ms Nash has long-standing connections to regional communities, having served 12 years in Federal Parliament as a NSW Senator.

Her family has also been actively involved in farming enterprises in the New South Wales central west where her two sons continue to operate.

“I would like to congratulate Fiona on her appointment to the GrainGrowers’ board. I believe Fiona’s passion and commitment to improving outcomes for regional communities is widely acknowledged and we are looking forward to her contribution as part of the GrainGrowers board,” GrainGrowers chief executive officer, David McKeon, said.

Ms Nash’s appointment will be taken to the 2020 GrainGrowers’ Annual General meeting for ratification by members.

Her appointment is in addition to the appointment of Nigel Corish, who was elected as a grower director for the northern region at the GrainGrowers 2019 Annual General Meeting.

Mr Corish is a fourth-generation farmer from Goondiwindi, Queensland, and runs a family enterprise of a rain fed food and fibre company.

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QFF appoints new CEO and president

THE Queensland Farmers’ Federation’s (QFF) has a new leadership team.

Georgina Davis

Dr Georgina Davis has been appointed chief executive officer as outgoing CEO Travis Tobin moves onto new challenges with the Cattle Council of Australia in Canberra.

Allan Dingle has transitioned from his current role as QFF vice president and taken over the reins from president Stuart Armitage who is returning to his cotton farm on the Darling Downs.

Mr Dingle farms sugarcane, soybeans and fodder crops on his 230-hectare irrigated property at Bundaberg.

He was appointed a director of QFF in 2014 and has been the vice president since 2017.

He has also served on several other regional and state level boards including CANEGROWERS, Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group, the Bundaberg Grain and Cane Co-op, and the Bundaberg District Groundwater Advisory Committee.

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WA plant geneticist’s national award

WESTERN Barley Genetics Alliance director Chengdao Li has won the 2019 Australian Farmer of the Year Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research.

Chengdao Li

Professor Li has made significant contributions to advancing grains genetics in WA over nearly two decades with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and, more recently, with Murdoch University.

As leader of the Alliance, Professor Li leads a team of highly skilled scientists that has developed several new highly profitable barley varieties, while he also led a WA-based group that contributed to the international mapping of the barley genome.

DPIRD managing director research and industry innovation, Mark Sweetingham, congratulated the highly regarded scientist and mentor on his award and his contribution to the department and the WA grains industry.

“Professor Li is admired for his extensive knowledge in plant genetics and ability to see the big picture and how to get there,” Dr Sweetingham said.

Murdoch University deputy vice chancellor (research and innovation), David Morrison, said Professor Li’s work epitomised modern research by employing solution-driven science and collaboration to accelerate outcomes that creates transformational change.

The Western Barley Genetics Alliance, a partnership between DPIRD and Murdoch University, originated in 2015 to optimise the organisations’ complementary expertise and resources.

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New Future Farmers Board members

THE Future Farmers Network has welcomed six new directors to the Board.

The new directors are:

  • Caitlin McConnel
  • Daniel Coulthurst
  • Oliver Le Lievre
  • Simon Kensit
  • Susannah White
  • Tim Flynn

Directors stepping down from the Board at the end of their term are:

  • Megan Moses
  • Lachlan Sutton
  • Isabel Coulton
  • Sarah Nolet
  • Mary Johnson

New FNN directors: Susannah White, Caitlin McConnel, Oliver le Lievere, Daniel Coulthurst, Tim Flynn, Simon Kensit.

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Ag leaders inducted into Academy

FIVE significant contributors to the agriculture sector are among 25 industry leaders who have been elected Fellows of one of Australia’s Learned Academies.

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering has inducted experts from across research, government and industry.

They include:

The Hon John Anderson AO FTSE (Honorary Fellow), Former Deputy Prime Minister

John Anderson

Dr Martin Cole FTSE, CSIRO Agriculture and Food deputy director

Professor Neena Mitter FTSE, The University of Queensland QAAFI Centre for Horticultural Science director

Dr Andy Sheppard FTSE, CSIRO Invasive Species and Diseases research director

Dr Surinder Pal Singh FTSE, CSIRO Agriculture and Food chief research scientist

“We bring together Australia’s leading experts in applied science, technology and engineering to provide impartial, practical and evidence-based advice to enable Australia to maintain its position as a leading technology economy,” Academy president, Professor Hugh Bradlow, said.

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Young WA leader awards

MINGENEW-IRWIN Group (MIG) chief executive officer Kathryn Fleay’s dedication to working on behalf of grain growers and industry has been recognised through a prestigious award.

Ms Fleay was officially presented with a 2019 Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Western Region Emerging Leader Award during a meeting of the GRDC Western Region Panel.

Panel chair Darrin Lee said Ms Fleay had gathered extensive experience in the WA grains industry since completing a Bachelor of Agribusiness degree in 2008.

After completing her degree with Curtin University, Ms Fleay was a research agronomist with MIG.

This was followed by time spent as an agronomist with Landmark at Mingenew and Geraldton before managing a broadacre farm in the Mingenew/Morawa area.

She took up her current position with MIG in 2017.

Ms Fleay’s award is one of two GRDC Western Region Emerging Leader awards presented by the GRDC Western Region Panel this year, with Landmark agronomist Kirsty Smith also being recognised.

Kathryn Fleay (centre), the Mingenew-Irwin Group, receives her GRDC Western Region Emerging Leader Award from GRDC Western Region Panel chair Darrin Lee and GRDC managing director Steve Jefferies. Photo: GRDC

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Rabobank bolsters succession team

RABOBANK has bolstered its succession planning team with the appointment of two facilitators, Christine Lensing and Gavin Whiteley – bringing the team to four.

“Christine and Gavin both have a strong association with agriculture,” Rabobank head of succession planning, Rosemary Bartle, said.

“Christine’s family have strong farming roots in South Africa and she has spent much of her career working in rural areas in South Africa and also the United States.

“With graduate and post-graduate qualifications in ag science and economics, Christine started out at the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa before embarking on a career in agricultural banking in areas of credit risk management, financial and industry analysis, and agricultural advisory services.”

Ms Bartle said Mr Whiteley also had a lifelong association with the land, having grown up on his family’s cropping, sheep and beef farms in central NSW.

“Now based in Bungendore in southern NSW, Gavin is still actively involved in one of his family’s properties,” she said.

“And with qualifications from Orange Agricultural College and the University of New England, Gavin has worked in accounting, finance and business consulting and also held senior roles at a number of well-known corporate agribusinesses in the cropping, beef and poultry sectors.”

Ms Lensing, who is based in Melbourne, will be responsible for providing succession facilitation services across Victoria and Tasmania, while Mr Whiteley will cover NSW and Queensland, and Ms Bartle will facilitate succession for families in SA, WA and the Northern Territory.

Kim Lee, who is one of the early founders of Rabobank’s succession planning arm, will run the Foundations of Farm Succession Workshops for families in the early stages of succession planning.

Rabobank succession planning team: Christine Lensing, Kim Lee, Rosemary Bartle and Gavin Whiteley.

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WA resurrects Soil Conservation Council

THE Western Australian government re-established the Soil and Land Conservation Council with 10 new members who will provide advice to the Commissioner of Soil and Land Conservation under the Soil and Land Conservation Act (1945).

The Council will also provide policy advice to the Agriculture and Food Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, on soil and land conservation programs run by the State and Federal governments.

Their first major goal is to implement the draft State Soil Health Strategy, addressing key soil issues in WA such as salinity and soil carbon.

Another issue on the Council’s radar is addressing land degradation, estimated to cost WA’s agricultural production sector more than $2 billion each year, as well as the impact of climate change on soil health.

The new WA Soil and Land Conservation Council is made up of:

  • Chairman, Dr Kevin Goss – agricultural consultant;
  • Deputy chair, Dr Hayley Norman – farming systems scientist;
  • Robert Nixon – Kalannie farmer;
  • Natarsha Woods – Wheatbelt NRM CEO;
  • Dr Richard George – Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development hydrologist;
  • Dr Lynne Johnston – farmer and business consultant;
  • Doug Morgan – Main Roads WA executive;
  • Adam Maskew – Department of Water and Environmental Regulation South West manager;
  • Renata Paliskis – Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage director;
  • Dylan Copeland – natural resource management consultant to local government; and
  • Commissioner, Andrew ‘Nick’ Watson – long serving agricultural scientist.

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Harfield joins Glencore Agriculture in SA

GLENCORE Agriculture has welcomed grain merchant and state manager for South Australia Ben Harfield to its team. Mr Harfield has more than 25 years of experience in the grain industry, holding roles in both accumulation and trading, mostly in South Australia.

Ben Harfield

Glencore Agriculture national accumulation manager Andrew Wilsdon said the business was pleased to have Mr Harfield, with his wealth of experience, join the team.

“Ben is able to offer his knowledge to grower customers about why export markets are acting a certain way and share his understanding of global grain flows due to his active involvement in the export side of the grain industry,” Mr Wilsdon said.

“As an intrinsic part of his role, Ben also has a great deal of experience in the domestic market, linking South Australian growers with end-users around Australia.

Glencore Agriculture is one of the largest buyers and exporters of Australian commodities, and buys directly from growers with accumulation offices located in key growing regions in South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

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