People on the move

People on the move in the grain industry

Grain Central, October 21, 2022

Darling Downs Cotton Growers Inc. Unsung Hero Award was presented to Bruce Vandersee by Jeff Jacques on behalf of Western Downs Transport. Photo: Cotton Australia

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

  • United Malt MD, CEO to retire
  • Nutrien MD promoted to global role
  • Incitec CEO designate
  • New WA DPIRD director general
  • Hermanson joins Nuveen
  • Darling Downs cotton awards
  • New SunRice deputy chair
  • International prize for Lamb
  • New Environmental Water Holder
  • Sustainable Irrigation finalists
  • Grains Australia appointment

United Malt MD, CEO to retire

Global malt processor United Malt Group managing director and chief executive officer Mark Palmquist has informed the board of his intention to retire from the roles during Financial Year 2023.

The Board has a global search process under way to appoint a new CEO.

Mark Palmquist

Mr Palmquist will remain in the roles until his successor is appointed to assist with an orderly transition.

“[Having] led United Malt since it became a listed company in March 2020 and for the previous five years as managing director and chief executive officer of GrainCorp, I believe the time is right for a new chief executive to lead United Malt for the next period of its development,” Mr Palmquist said.

“While the business has been challenged by the impacts of COVID and the severe drought in Canada, the initiatives we continue to implement lay a strong foundation for the business with a significant improvement in financial performance anticipated in FY23 and beyond.”

“I would like to thank Mark for his service to United Malt and the pivotal role he played in establishing United Malt as a listed company,” United Malt chairman Graham Bradley said.

Mr Bradley said a global search is under way to appoint Mr Palmquist’s successor, and will consider both external and internal candidates.

Nutrien MD promoted to global role

Nutrien Ag Solutions managing director Rob Clayton will move offshore to Colorado in the US later this year, to take up a newly-created role as Nutrien’s global head of retail operations.

He is handing over the reins as head of the national Australian farm services business to Nutrien’s current Canadian division boss, former accountant Kelly Freeman.

Mr Clayton was made managing director of Landmark in 2018, before the Ruralco merger that formed Nutrien.

He previously served as Landmark’s southeast regional director for six years, covering Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales.

He has worked with Nutrien and its predecessor Landmark for 21 years, having grown up on his family’s farm near Coonamble.

In other Nutrien international news, parent company Nutrien Ltd, the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services, last month announced the appointment of Ken Seitz as the company’s president and CEO.

Mr Seitz has served as interim CEO since January, and brings more than 25 years of global management experience working across more than 60 countries, with deep experience in agriculture and mining sectors.

In other recent appointments, Nutrien Australia has hired Tyson Cattle as the company’s new senior manager of government and industry affairs.

Mr Cattle was previously national affairs manager for vegetable growers’ group, Ausveg and editor of the Stock and Land newspaper.

Incitec CEO designate

Incitec Pivot Limited has announced the appointment of Christine Corbett as CEO designate of the proposed standalone Incitec Pivot Fertilisers (IPF) business.

Ms Corbett will lead the fertilisers business starting 9 January 2023, as part of IPL, and through the proposed structural separation.

Christine Corbett. Photo: AGL

Ms Corbett has experience as managing director and CEO designate for AGL Australia in AGL’s demerger which did not proceed earlier this year.

Prior to joining AGL, Ms Corbett built a career at Australia Post spanning nearly 30 years, where she had executive leadership roles including chief customer officer, EGM postal services and EGM retail services, and culminating as interim managing director and CEO.

IPL Chairman, Brian Kruger said the appointment of Ms Corbett was an important step in setting up the fertiliser business as a standalone.

“We are pleased to announce that Christine will lead the IPF business, given her proven ability to connect with people, customers and stakeholders to deliver results through periods of transformational change,” Mr Kruger said.

“Christine’s industry and executive leadership across energy, logistics and supply chains demonstrates her ability to transition across large and complex businesses and adapt to new industries and be successful in delivering commercial results.”

New WA DPIRD director general

Heather Brayford has been named as the new director general of Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). 

Ms Brayford has served as the deputy director general of DPIRD’s sustainability and biosecurity pillar since 2017, after previously working as the director general of the Department of Fisheries. 

She brings with her more than 30 years of senior leadership experience across the public sector in WA, including two terms as the director of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. 

“We are pleased to announce the appointment of Heather Brayford as the new Director General,” Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.

“Heather’s past experience as the director general of Fisheries and her five years with the Primary Industries and Regional Development role gives her solid experience for this new position.

She will assume the post on November 1.

Hermanson joins Nuveen

Global natural capital asset manager Nuveen has appointed Kristina Hermanson as head of natural capital, APAC & Africa.

Based in Sydney, Ms Hermanson will focus on growth in the region in farmland, timberland and nature-based investment.

She has 20 years’ experience working in the agricultural sectors, most recently as the managing director of FMC for Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN and held roles at Coca Cola Amatil and ADM.

She currently serves on the board of directors at Australian Farm Institute and AgSafe Australia and recently completed a term as a CropLife Australia director.

“We are excited to extend our team of experts, with the view to growing our Global footprint,” Nuveen National Capital global head Martin Davies said.

“With solid expertise in the region and sector and strong leadership skills, Kristina will complement our existing team and help to expand our focus on sustainability initiatives.” 

Nuveen Natural Capital is the farmland and timberland investment specialist of Nuveen and holds a diversified portfolio of high-quality natural-capital assets. 

RDO Equipment Grower of the Year Johannes and Scarlett Rollegen, with consultant of the year Liz Lobsey (left). Photo: Cotton Australia

Darling Downs cotton awards

The RDO Equipment Darling Downs Cotton Grower of the year and Western Downs Transport Unsung Hero awards have been announced at the Darling Downs Cotton Grower Incorporated (DDCGI) annual awards dinner held in Dalby last month. 

The Rollegen family from Brookstead Cotton was named RDO Vanderfield Cotton Grower of the Year for 2022, and Bruce Vandersee was named Western Downs Transport Unsung Hero Award. 

DDCGI president Dave Walton commended all the award recipients and nominees after what he described as a long and challenging but good year of cotton farming. 

“Our farmers have done a fantastic job to come through a very wet and drawn-out season on the Darling Downs,” Mr Walton said. 

“The judging team was very impressed with this year’s nominees and the calibre of the entries.

“All categories were tightly contested, and the judges certainly had their work cut out finalising the winners – it was very close. 

“Our farmers should be extremely proud of what they are doing, and they deserve the recognition for all the hard work they have put in to growing sustainable cotton.” 

The 2022 award recipients are: 

  • RDO Equipment Grower of the Year: Rollegen family, Brookstead;
  • Cotton Grower Services High Achiever of the Year: Skerman family, Dalby;
  • Dalby Rural Supplies Young Achiever Award: Larissa Holland, CSD & DDCGI secretary;
  • Western Downs Transport Unsung Hero Award: Bruce Vandersee;
  • DDCGI Service to Industry: John and Kylie Fuelling;
  • DDCGI Greg McVeigh Memorial Trophy for Water Use Efficiency: Greg and Maryann Bender, 2.06 bales/ML;
  • ANZ Highest Yield, Irrigated Cotton: Ross Uebergang, 11.7 bales/ha; and
  • ANZ Highest Yield, Dryland Cotton: Kurt and Luke Von Pein, 7.36 bales/ha.

New SunRice deputy chair

John Bradford has been appointed the new deputy chair of Australian-based rice processor, SunRice.

Mr Bradford has held various roles during his eight-year tenure at the SunRice Group, including as chairman of the Grower Services Committee and of Rice Research Australia Pty Limited.

He is currently the chairman of Papua New Guinea’s Trukai Industries Limited and a member of the SunRice’s committees covering: finance risk and audit; people and remuneration, and nomination.

He is also a member of the Rice Research Australia Pty Limited Committee.

Mr Bradford has also been involved in the irrigation and rice-industry bodies, having previously held positions on the NSW Irrigators’ Council, the Murray Irrigation Board and as a branch delegate (Deniliquin) of the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia.

He has been on the Rice Marketing Board since 2015 and is a fifth-generation farmer.

International prize for Lamb

Former University of New England professor and SMART farming pioneer David Lamb has received an agtech award from the International Society of Precision Agriculture.

David Lamb

The applied physics guru and chief scientist of the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) was awarded the Pierre C. Robert Precision Agriculture Award, becoming the first Australian to receive the honour. 

“This award recognises Australia’s role as a powerhouse in this space,” Prof Lamb said.

“I have been aided and abetted by some amazing people around the country, so I am not alone.

“I was pretty chuffed even to have been nominated, knowing the who’s who around the world with whom I’ve worked with and consider mentors.” 

Prof Lamb has been at the forefront of precision agriculture since the discipline was born in the 1990s and has since led more than 40 research and development projects funded by the industry.

The Pierre C. Robert Precision Agriculture Award honours individuals who have made significant contributions to precision sciences and technology.

New Environmental Water Holder

Simon Banks has been appointed as the new Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder following the recent retirement of Hilton Taylor.

The CEWH manages water for the environment on behalf of the Australian Government to support the rivers and wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Dr Banks started in the role on October 3, having previously been in a senior role at the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office from 2009 to 2014.

He has also held senior Federal Government roles in natural-resource management and has extensive experience in engaging with stakeholders.

“In the coming months I will be travelling the basin to meet with community members, First Nations people, industry representatives, peak bodies and State Governments,” Dr Banks said.

Sustainable Irrigation finalists

Three farm irrigators have been selected from a pool of diverse entries as finalists in the 2022 Zimmatic Trailblazer Sustainable Irrigation Awards.

The awards celebrate excellence and recognise farmers who are at the forefront when it comes to responsible irrigation, innovative water management and environmental sustainability.

The finalists for 2022 are:

  • Jaco Pauer of the Pye Group, Parilla, South Australia whose horticulture property produces potatoes, carrots and onions as well as livestock, export hay and dryland cropping;
  • Simon Burgess of Vaucluse Agricultural Company, Conara, Tasmania who operates a mixed cropping and livestock property farming cereals, faba beans, poppies, potatoes, seed crops and fodder for livestock;
  • Darrell Fiddler of DeBortoli Wines, Bilbul, New South Wales farming seasonal rice and cotton in summer and wheat/barley in winter.

The judges will now travel to each property for the on-farm judging portion of the Awards in preparation for the category and supreme winner’s announcement later this year.

The judging panel is led by Pat Hulme who said this year’s entries showed the continued progress of farmers in the industry.

“All of the entries – particularly the finalists – showed a commitment to balancing the difficult elements of managing an irrigating farming enterprise, protecting water as a resource, supporting local communities and maintaining an efficient and profitable business,” Dr Hulme said.

GAL appoints wheat manager

Grains Australia Limited (GAL) has appointed Elham Saeedabadian as its first classification and technical manager wheat.

Elham Saeedabadian is GAL’s classification and technical manager wheat.

Ms Saeedabadian has previously worked in the wheat industry in technical and research roles, most recently at InterGrain and before that at the Australian Grains Export Innovation Centre (AEGIC).

“Elham is an experienced food scientist with an excellent understanding of quality testing methods and a strong background in planning and project delivery,” GAL general manager classification Megan Sheehy said.

Based in Perth and starting on October 31, Ms Saeedabadian will manage the functions, operations, technical aspects, promotion and development of GAL’s wheat classification program.

“As well as working closely with industry and our broader classification team, Elham will be a vital link between the technical functions of wheat classification and the Grains Australia Wheat Council,” Dr Sheehy said.

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