NEW GrainGrowers chair, Brett Hosking, hopes to bring the advocacy skills honed through his involvement at the upper levels of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) to his new role at the helm of the national grower representative body.
Appointed to the position at GrainGrowers annual general meeting in Dubbo this week, the fifth-generation mixed farmer from Quambatook in Victoria’s Mallee is looking forward to being an ‘amplifier’ for the voice of Australian grain growers.
Mr Hosking brings with him the experience and achievements of his previous position as VFF Grains Group president for four years, followed by a stint as VFF vice president for a little over two years.
“Without a doubt the moment I really felt I represented growers and made sure their voice was heard was around the issue of insolvencies and payment terms for growers,” he said.
“I remember sitting in a Senior Citizens Hall in Manangatang with a heap of growers saying things weren’t working with insolvencies and companies not paying, and saying “What are we going to do about it?”.
“Out of that we shifted payment terms from 30 days end of week to now being so darn close to driving over the weighbridge and being handed a suitcase of cash – back to two or three days in many cases.
“The credit is really due to the growers. They said they had had enough of being treated the way they were. That is what I hope to bring to GrainGrowers.”
Mr Hosking said there were numerous challenges facing growers that “I can’t fix on my own”, but he would make sure growers’ voices were heard at the highest levels.
“I always say the best farmers in Australia are grain growers… I’m always impressed with the professionalism of our farmers and what they are achieving in a climate that isn’t always favourable….”
He pointed to the issues facing the industry at the moment such as the drought in eastern Australia, transport logistics shortcomings, on-farm agronomy threats, trade agreements and market challenges.
“You can’t come to Dubbo at the moment without thinking about drought. They have had some rain, but only enough to get some Royals wet. The challenges are huge for some of the growers this year. You look at the paddocks and your heart breaks for them,” he said.
“Being able to support those guys through the conditions they are experiencing at the moment is really important for any grower organisation.”
But, Mr Hosking said it was also important to look beyond the current issues to the future and the opportunities available to agriculture when conditions improved.
“We need to think about the trade agreements and what we can do to make a difference to what growers get back in their pockets,” he said.
“We need to look at the efficiencies we can create in the supply chain because we know our roads and rail networks are under-invested and we know government has a huge task to drag them up to the standard they need to be. But we also know what a difference it can make to our growers and the nation if we can do it.
“I will be making sure those issues are front and centre and that we have a government that is courageous, engaged and cares for and values its growers, and really wants to make a difference. If I can achieve that it will be a good outcome for growers.”
Mr Hosking said the grain industry was an exciting industry to be part of, made up of many passionate, progressive farmers.
“I always say the best farmers in Australia are grain growers. In the grains industry, I’m always impressed with the professionalism of our farmers and what they are achieving in a climate that isn’t always favourable to them,” he said.
“It seems every solution provides a problem. There are herbicide resistance challenges; freight and logistics challenges; global marketing challenges. It seems like the Australian grain grower is a really resilient and dynamic person who seems to be able to adapt and cope with whatever is thrown at them.
“As an industry, we have an opportunity to get together with other grower organisations and really make a difference for the grower.”
Together with his wife Jane and their four children, Mr Hosking grows wheat, barley, oats, canola and a number of legumes for hay and grain production on the family farm in Victoria. They also breed Merinos and run a small herd of cattle.
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