People on the move

People on the move in the grain and cropping industry

Grain Central July 16, 2021

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

  • CSD restructures leadership team
  • CSIRO appoints new chief scientist
  • CBH’s senior management changes
  • Dax returns to Emerald
  • Merson joins RainAg
  • Cassidy leads southern NSW drought hub
  • Kerin steps down as PPSA chair
  • GGA searching for new CEO
  • Lee heads for Innovation Hub
  • CRDC appoints R&D manager and communications lead
  • Wilkinson heads LAWD’s WA launch
  • NSW DPI appoints industry adoption leader
  • Scientists take out ag R&D award
  • John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarship recipients announced
  • QRIDA’s new chief lending officer
  • PhD focus on wheat protein research


CSD has also promoted Chris Teague to the newly created role of data and digital manager.

CSD restructures leadership team

COTTON Seed Distributors (CSD) has appointed Peter White as the company’s new extension and market development lead.

Mr White joins CSD after a 30-year career with CGS, including the last 24 years as national sales manager.

He leads the CSD extension team, consisting of 17 regionally based extension and development agronomists and CottonInfo regional extension officers.

CSD has also promoted Chris Teague to the newly created role of data and digital manager, to lead the company’s agronomy software initiative.

Mr Teague has been a member of the CSD extension team since 2016, where he managed the Macintyre Valley, St George and Dirranbandi extension program.

He is now responsible for the management and delivery of CSD’s agronomy software to the Australian cotton industry, as well as leading the development of new technologies.

Louise Hill

Angus Marshall has taken over Mr Teague’s role in the Macintyre Valley, St George and Dirranbandi.

Meanwhile, the CSD Annual General Meeting elected Louise Hill to the company’s Board of Directors, filling the vacancy left by the retirement of Joanne Grainger, whose term finished at the AGM after nine years on the CSD Board.

Ms Hill has been involved in the St George area in an irrigation farming family for over 20 years. She is also the managing director of agribusiness law firm, LH Law.

The CSD Board also recently appointed non-executive director, Andrew Guthrie. Mr Guthrie has spent over 30 years in regional development and management within the Syngenta group.

Current Directors, Matthew Norrie and Cleave Rogan were also re-elected at the AGM.

Led by chair, James Kahl, the CSD Board of Directors includes managing director, Peter Graham; vice chair, Tony Quigley; Nigel Corish; Andrew Guthrie; Juanita Hamparsum; Louise Hill; Matthew Norrie; Doug Rathbone; and Cleave Rogan.


CSIRO appoints new chief scientist

AUSTRALIA’s national science agency, CSIRO, has appointed Professor Bronwyn Fox as chief scientist, close to 30 years after she began her career with CSIRO as a research assistant.

Bronwyn Fox

Professor Fox, CSIRO’s fourth female chief scientist, joins the agency from Swinburne University of Technology, where she is deputy vice-chancellor (research and enterprise).

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said Professor Fox brought great depth of scientific experience to the role.

“Bronwyn exemplifies the CSIRO way – driven to deliver, brilliant but humble, leading by listening, and a generous collaborator,” Dr Marshall said.

“She has a long history of bringing together researchers from across multiple scientific domains and institutions, leveraging digital science, and helping industry to translate brilliant ideas into real world solutions.

“Her sustained commitment to supporting the growth of the manufacturing industry in Australia strongly supports our purpose to deliver solutions from science that drive Australia’s economic recovery and resilience.”

As a materials and engineering scientist, Professor Fox was the founding director of Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute, with a mission to support the transition of Australia’s manufacturing sector to Industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution.

Professor Fox is chair of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (Victorian Division), a fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), a fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).


CBH’s senior management changes

THE CBH Group has announced changes to its senior management team including the appointment of a chief information officer to the CBH Lead Team.

Chief financial officer Doug Warden has provided his resignation to pursue another employment opportunity and will leave CBH at the end August.

Tamour Azam will join the CBH Lead Team as chief information officer and report to the chief executive officer. This role previously reported to the chief financial officer.

Chief project delivery officer Pieter Vermeulen has also announced his resignation and will leave CH by the end of October 2021.

CBH acting chief executive officer Ben Macnamara said he would like to thank Mr Warden and Mr Vermeulen for their work for the co-operative during their tenures.

“Doug has been with CBH for almost three years leading the finance and IT teams, and I would like to thank Doug for his contribution to CBH during his time with us, it has been great to have him as part of the team,” Mr Macnamara said.

“During Pieter’s time, the Project Delivery team has delivered 2.7 million tonnes of new storage to the CBH network, 80 throughput enhancements and many sustaining capital projects.”


Dax returns to Emerald

GRAIN trader Simone Dax has returned to Emerald Grain, her employer from 2011 to 2015.

Ms Dax is based in Melbourne and is currently the vice president of the Grain Industry Association of Victoria.

Emerald Grain is active throughout Australian markets, and operates a storage and receival network in NSW and Victoria, as well as the Port of Melbourne’s only bulk grain terminal.

Ms Dax has also worked with Agracom as its senior Victoria and southern NSW trader, Hassad Food, Peter Cremer Australia, and Riverina Australia.


Merson joins RainAg

RAINAGRIBUSINESS has employed Scott Merson as a commodity broker based in Toowoomba, Queensland.

Mr Merson was previously with Emerald Grain as a trader and regional manager.

In his new role, he will service growers, traders and end-users active in northern NSW and southern Queensland.

“I’m looking forward to working more closely with growers to achieve market-leading outcomes across a range of commodities, including cotton,” he said.

His commencement bolsters RainAg’s growing footprint in eastern Australia, with the business now representing market participants in all major cotton-growing valleys as well as most major grain-growing regions.

Scott Merson with RainAg director Tim Whan.


Cassidy leads southern NSW drought hub

CINDY Cassidy has been appointed director of the Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub.

Cindy Cassidy

Led by Charles Sturt University, it works with key industries including cropping, rice, cotton and livestock, and connects with southern NSW farmers and communities from the Far West, Riverina, Monaro and coastal plains.

Ms Cassidy is also on the advisory board of the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Agricultural Engineering, and is a non-executive director of AgriFutures Australia.

She was the chief executive officer of FarmLink Research at Temora from 2013 to 2020, and left the organisation to become general manager agriculture with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Ms Cassidy’s position at BOM has been absorbed into a new role, general manager water and agriculture, held by Matthew Coulton, who was a Barnaby Joyce staffer prior to joining BOM in 2018.


Kerin steps down as PPSA chair

INAUGURAL executive chair of Primary Producers South Australia (PPSA) Rob Kerin will formally step down from the role after an eight-year tenure.

The former Premier of South Australia has been executive chair of PPSA since the organisation was established following the dissolution of the South Australian Farmers Federation in 2013.

“From the beginning, the aim of PPSA was to be the united voice of SA’s primary production industries,” Mr Kerin said.

“For more than eight years, PPSA has worked with its six member organisations on cross-commodity issues impacting all South Australian primary producers.

“The formation of the PPSA Council – initially comprising Grain Producers SA, Livestock SA, the Horticulture Coalition of SA, the SA Dairyfarmers’ Association and the Wine Grape Council of SA and later adding the South Australian Forest Products Association – was a historic step forward in advocacy for SA primary production.”

One highlight that stood out for Mr Kerin was PPSA joining the National Farmers’ Federation in 2017, giving South Australian primary producers a voice at the national table.

“For 10 years, SA farmers had no direct link with the NFF,” he said.

“By joining the NFF and having representation on a national stage, PPSA has been able to better advocate for the interest of our state’s farmers.”

PPSA interim chair Don Plowman will undertake a review of the organisation prior to announcing how the new executive chair role will be structured and what recruitment process will be undertaken.

Inaugural executive chair of Primary Producers South Australia (PPSA) Rob Kerin will step down from the role after an eight-year tenure.


GGA searching for new CEO

FORMER Grower Group Alliance (GGA) chief executive officer Annabelle Bushell will this month return from parental leave as a part time business development manager within the drought adoption and innovation hub team.

Interim chief executive officer Niki Curtis will be stepping down.

GGA is now searching for a new CEO.

Meanwhile, two positions on the GGA Board will be vacant and up for election at this year’s AGM on 31 August.

The board is comprised of five member elected directors and three independent appointed directors. Nominations close 3 August.


Lee heads for Innovation Hub

Natalie Lee

AFTER three years as the western region communications manager for the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Natalie Lee has left to take up the position of stakeholder and communications manager for the South West Adoption and Innovation Hub.

In a long career in media and communications, Ms Lee has previously worked with West Australian Newspapers and been senior account director with Cox Inall Communications.


CRDC appoints R&D manager and communications lead

THE Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) has announced the appointment of a new Research and Development (R&D) manager, Elsie Hudson, and a new CottonInfo communications lead, Brad Pfeffer.

Ms Hudson is a cotton consultant and extension officer, who has worked across cotton farms in the Narrabri, Moree, Walgett and Bourke regions.

She most recently worked as a regional extension officer within the industry’s extension program, CottonInfo, supported by CRDC, Cotton Australia and Cotton Seed Distributors.

Mr Pfeffer is an experienced agricultural communications professional, specialising in research, development and extension.

Hailing from a cotton farm, he has worked as a journalist for Rural Press, a media advisor for a Federal Member of Parliament, as a policy officer for Cotton Australia, and a communications manager for the Queensland Farmers’ Federation.

For the past six years, Mr Pfeffer has been the executive manager of communications and adoption at CRDC’s fellow research and development corporation (RDC), Sugar Research Australia.

Mr Pfeffer is based in Brisbane and will commence with CRDC this month, while Ms Hudson will commence from her Goondiwindi base in August.


Wilkinson heads LAWD’s WA launch

NATIONAL real estate agency and advisory firm Land, Agribusiness, Water & Development (LAWD) has announced its launch into Western Australia with the appointment of agribusiness professional, Simon Wilkinson.

Simon Wilkinson

Mr Wilkinson will head up LAWD’s WA operations as transactions director, and brings with him a proven track record in agribusiness having held positions with companies including Elders, Summit Fertilizers and IAMA/Landmark.

LAWD executive chairman, John McKillop, said while LAWD was already active in the WA market, it was important for the firm to have a boots-on-the-ground presence in the state.

“As the nation’s largest grain grower and a significant player in the production of meat and livestock, dairy, wool and horticultural produce, it is critical we have operations based in Western Australia,” Mr McKillop said.

“Simon is a well-respected figure in Western Australia’s agriculture industry and, over the course of his career, has demonstrated his ability to create strong connections with agribusiness and a commitment to supporting a thriving farm sector in the state.”

LAWD will launch its WA operations on Thursday, 29 July, and will open an office in Perth over the coming months.


NSW DPI appoints industry adoption leader

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has appointed Matt Adkins as the leader industry adoption in DPI’s Agriculture division, to bolster its capacity in planning, developing and delivering scientific-based ag system business solutions.

Matt Adkins

Acting deputy director of agriculture Darren Bayley said the newly created role was responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of industry adoption pathways, with a focus on digital delivery.

Mr Adkins, who will transition from his current position as DPI Agriculture’s leader northern horticulture, has more than 20 years of research and adoption experience working in global and local horticulture supply chains, including 12 years in the private sector working with Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and DOW Chemical.

He also holds an Honours Degree in Environmental Science and Ecology.


Scientists take out ag R&D award

THE Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering’s (ATSE) annual ICM Agrifood Award has been presented to two applied scientists who have made significant contributions to the agriculture sector.

The 2021 winners are:

  • Dr Anna El-Tahchy, chief technical officer at Nourish Ingredients, a spin-out company from CSIRO (Agriculture and Food), who is leading efforts to improve the flavour and sustainability of plant-based meat substitute food products.
  • Dr Lindsay Bell, farming systems scientist at CSIRO, for world-leading research helping dryland crop and livestock farmers manage climate variability.

Dr El-Tahchy has been leading a team of scientists at Nourish Ingredients to create animal-free fats that make plant-based meat alternatives taste better and are healthier and more sustainable than the traditionally used palm and coconut oils.

Lindsay Bell

The key to the technology is a special fermentation process.

“The texture is exactly what we need to supplement these proteins without having to overload the products with them. So, there will be less carbohydrates, better taste and it’s actually mimicking animal fats,” Dr El-Tahchy said.

Dr Bell’s research focuses on redesigning cropping systems and re-integrating crops and livestock to more efficiently use highly variable rainfall to increase profitability and reduce losses during droughts.

He has been instrumental in developing dual-purpose canola that works both as a crop and a feedstock, and designing protocols to help farmers graze their crops at a time that reduces the risk of grain yield losses.

“Growing up on a farm in western Queensland I have firsthand experience with many of the challenges facing agriculture,” Dr Bell said.

“This has driven me to try to identify practices, technology and markets that help farmers become more viable in the short and long term.”


John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarship recipients announced

RIVERINE Plains and Uncle Tobys have announced that two outstanding students have been named as the 2021 recipients of the John Hanrahan Scholarship and the Inaugural Uncle Tobys Scholarship.

The recipient of the John Hanrahan Scholarship is Jessica Ryan from Estella, New South Wales, while the recipient of the Uncle Tobys Scholarship is Thomas Hatty, from Tocumwal, NSW.

Jessica Ryan

Riverine Plains chief executive officer, Catherine Marriott, said both scholarships recognised the excellence shown by local students studying for an agriculture-related qualification, while also providing additional opportunities for these students within the industry.

Ms Ryan is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management at Charles Sturt University.

She has an interest in agricultural advocacy and politics, and is looking to help shape the future of agriculture by speaking up on issues affecting farmers.

Thomas Hatty

Mr Hatty is undertaking a combined Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Agricultural Science at LaTrobe University.

He has a farming background, with experience in cropping and other agricultural businesses.

Mr Hatty has an interest in grains and crop agronomy and hopes to work directly with farmers to address production and operational issues, with a focus on sustainability and continued improvement using technological innovations and research outcomes.

The 2021 Scholarship recipients each receive a bursary of $5000.


QRIDA’s new chief lending officer

THE Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) has appointed a new chief lending officer, Jacqueline Ryan, following the retirement of long-standing predecessor Tony O’Dea.

Jacqueline Ryan

Ms Ryan brings with her a fresh perspective on the rural and business lending space in which QRIDA operates.

She has held senior executive roles at ANZ and NAB, worked at the former Queensland Industry Development Corporation (QIDC) and Queensland Treasury Corporation earlier in her career, as well as with Wells Fargo Bank and John Hancock (agribusiness) in the United States, managing relationships with a series of international agricultural market movers and shakers.

Ms Ryan holds an MBA from the University of New England, a Bachelor of Business (Accountancy) from the Queensland University of Technology and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors

QRIDA is a specialist provider of government financial assistance, farm debt services and advisory support to agencies, businesses and industries across Queensland.


PhD focus on wheat protein research

DR ANNIE Riaz has been presented with a PhD from Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, for her study into the changes in protein composition and baking characteristics of Australian wheat varieties over the past 150 years.

Her findings suggest the typical grain protein content of varieties has decreased over time due to a dilution effect caused by genetic selection for increased yields.

“Grain quality was assessed in terms of grain physical quality parameters, protein content and composition, dough rheology and baking quality traits,” Dr Riaz said.

“The selection of superior grain quality traits has compensated for the decrease in grain protein, leading to improved bread making quality.”

Dr Riaz said there was potential to further improve protein content to meet market demands.

“Modern Australian wheat varieties have unique quality in terms of colour and protein content and composition which can meet the needs of international market,” she said.

“Old varieties with high grain protein content such as Festiguay, Gabo and Timgalen have shown significant association with overlapping genes that can be used in future breeding programs to develop new varieties with higher protein content, to meet the demands of domestic and export market.”

NSW DPI’s Denise Pleming, Charles Sturt University’s Professor Chris Blanchard, PhD graduate Dr Annie Riaz, and AGT’s Dr Russell Eastwood.


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