People on the move

People on the Move in the grain industry

Grain Central, January 22, 2024

Richard Heath has been appointed as inaugural CEO of ZNE-Ag CRC.

  • Heath to head ZNE-Ag CRC
  • Hansen departs NSW DPI
  • Qube bulks up
  • Pulse role for Lillecrapp at GA
  • O’Brien, Sidley retire
  • Thompson awarded DAgrSc
  • Neves de Moraes takes IPL helm
  • Seed industry leader retires
  • Fazzino moves into Rabo chair
  • New leaders at Inland Rail, ARTC
  • Bange recognised by ICAC

Heath to head ZNE-Ag CRC

Former Australian Farm Institute executive director Richard Heath has this week been named as the inaugural CEO of Zero Net Emissions Agriculture Cooperative Research Centre initiated last month.

“Richard brings strong sector and leadership expertise to this new role,” ZNE-Ag CRC chair Deb Cousins said.

“He also has a passion for sustainable agriculture, given his experience as a farmer and industry advocate.

Mr Heath said he was relishing the challenge of leading the $300 million collaborative venture which will support the industry to achieve emissions targets in Australian agriculture by 2030 and 2050.

“We will coordinate an industry-led approach to help safeguard the profitability and marketing access of Australian agri-businesses as we make the transition to net zero.”

“Our trading partners also look to us as a source of science and technology, so it will strengthen our capacity to engage with our neighbours to help with their efforts in the same direction.”

“The CRC will deliver standardised, trusted guidelines, metrics and benchmarking tools to monitor on-farm emissions and accelerate Australian agriculture’s transition to net zero and beyond.”

Mr Heath will move from Sydney to Brisbane to take up the role, effective March 1 ahead of the board being appointed by July 1.

Hansen departs NSW DPI

Leadership changes made by the Secretary of the Department of Regional NSW have seen Scott Hansen depart from his role as Director-General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, effective January 19.

Scott Hansen.

“The Department thanks Mr Hansen for his service and significant commitment through some of the toughest conditions NSW’s primary producers and our regional communities have faced during the past 10 years,” a Department of Regional NSW spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Department of Regional NSW remains committed to delivering high quality services to primary industries across regional NSW and will look to bolster leadership for Primary Industries over the coming months.”

Current Deputy Director-General Fisheries Sean Sloan will act in the role on an interim basis.

Mr Hansen was appointed as DG of the NSW PDI in 2014, and was previously with Meat & Livestock Australia for 10 years.

Qube bulks up

The grain trading team at Qube Agri has expanded with the recruitment of additional up-country based personnel. 

In new positions are Narromine-based Ginni Brown as grower relationship manager, and Toowoomba appointments are Rebecca Cameron as manager logistics and trade, Owen Goddard as national container business manager, and Matthew Pattison as general manager trading.   

Qube has been buying assets in grain since 2020, when it purchased the Quattro terminal in Port Kembla and Agrigrain’s sites at Coonamble and Narromine, followed by the Newcastle Agri Terminal in 2021, and Viterra’s facility last year. 

Qube is a major provider of import and export logistics services and operates a rail fleet, and is a major stakeholder in the Tamworth Intermodal Freight Facility. 

Industry sources have told Grain Central Qube is expanding into trading from a fee-for-service base at its grain sites to make better use of its NSW infrastructure assets. 

Pulse role for Lillecrapp at GA

Jen Lillecrapp has commenced in the newly created position of classification and technical officer – pulses with Grains Australia.

She will support the development of pulse classification frameworks and contribute to the team’s activities in variety classification, communication and project management.

Ms Lillecrapp was most recently part of the GRDC Hyper Yielding Crops project led by FAR Australia and previously facilitated and coordinated the GRDC’s then Regional Cropping Solutions Network in the Southern Region.

O’Brien, Sidley retire

Two senior figures retired last month from their long-term posts and their contribution to trading and industry-good functions has been recognised by those in the industry. 

In Victoria, Peter Sidley has retired as ADM Australia’s grain accumulation manager for the state after serving many years for the Australian Barley Board. 

Mark O’Brien.

Mr Sidley has been replaced by James French, formerly of pulse trader Wimpak. 

In NSW, Mark O’Brien has signed off after 42 years with George Weston Foods, where he started as an animal nutritionist before moving into grains in the mid-1980s and rose to the position of general manager grains based in Tamworth. 

Mr O’Brien is being replaced by the Wagga Wagga-based Chris Kochanski, who has worked for other grain-trading entities including Emerald.

Thompson awarded DAgrSc

Professor Emeritus John Thompson has been awarded a Doctor of Agricultural Science, a peak-level doctorate which has acknowledged the extent of his research career, by The University of Queensland.

Professor Emeritus John Thompson with his DAgrSc award. Photo: UQ

Professor Thompson in 1975 completed his PhD from UQ on nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and worked for the Qld Government in agricultural research before shifting in 2014 with departmental colleagues to the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba ahead of his retirement in 2019.

His work on the nature and benefits of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and on the impact of root-lesion nematodes, has contributed significantly to improved farming systems, including improved crop varieties, saving tens of millions of dollars annually for the grains industries.

A DAgrSc has been on Professor Thompson’s radar for some years. Producing a thesis incorporating 95 published papers he authored or co-authored on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and root-lesion nematodes has been his retirement project.

“The thesis was examined by three overseas academics, and I’m greatly honoured to have received this degree from The University of Queensland,” Professor Thompson said.

Mauro Neves de Moraes and Greg Robinson. Photo: IPL

Neves de Moraes takes IPL helm

Incitec Pivot Limited has appointed Mauro Neves de Moraes as chief executive officer and managing director, effective today. 

Mr Neves de Moraes has held asset president roles for BHP Mitsubishi Alliance in Australia, and in Chile for BHP’s Escondida operations, the world’s largest copper mine. 

A mechanical engineer with dual Brazilian Australian citizenship, Mr Neves de Moraes was executive vice president – commercial and marketing at Aurizon from 2014 to 2017, and from 2004 to 2014 held various roles at Vale SA, a Brazilian multinational miner and logistics operator. 

“Mauro has executive leadership experience in the mining and logistics sectors across multiple geographies,” IPL chairman Greg Robinson said.  

“His global expertise provides deep knowledge of the strategic and operational issues facing companies across the mining sector.

Peter Kleinhanss with Will Yates.

Seed industry leader retires

After nearly 40 years at Pioneer Seeds in Australia, Peter Kleinhanss announced his retirement effective at the end of 2023. 

Beginning his career in 1984, Mr Kleinhanss has served in a variety of roles including in research, agronomy, sales, and has held the position of CEO since 2013. 

“All the wonderful people I have worked alongside through the years, including colleagues in the business, industry associates and growers all around the country, have made my journey a very enjoyable and happy one to remember,” Mr Kleinhanss said.

GenTech Seeds managing director Will Yates paid tribute to Peter’s impact on the seed industry.

“Over his career, Pete has actively contributed to improving the productivity of growers in Australia,” Mr Yates said.

“On behalf of the GenTech Seeds board, staff, and Yates family we acknowledge Pete for his substantial and enduring contributions to the Pioneer brand and Australian agriculture during his lengthy and distinguished career, and we all extend our very best wishes and hearty thanks to him on his retirement.” 

The role of leading GenTech Seeds has passed to managing director Will Yates. 

Fazzino moves into Rabo chair

Rabobank Australia has announced the appointment of James Fazzino as its new chair, succeeding Sir Henry van der Heyden, who will be retiring from the board in March. 

Mr Fazzino has been a member of the Rabobank Australia board since 2020, and has had an extensive career in senior executive roles in the agribusiness sector and broader business.

He is currently a director of APA Group, Australia’s leading energy infrastructure group, and chair of Manufacturing Australia.

He was previously chair of Tassal, and served as managing director and CEO at Incitec Pivot from 2009 to 2017.

Mr Fazzino is also a co-convenor of three Champions of Change groups.

Rabobank managing board member wholesale & rural Els Kamphof said Mr Fazzino’s understanding of Rabobank Australia and its market, combined with his experience and knowledge in agribusiness and the wider business environment, made him an ideal successor to take on the role of leading the Australian board. 

New leaders at Inland Rail, ARTC

Nick Miller has been appointed as the new chief executive officer of Inland Rail Pty Ltd and Wayne Johnson has been named the new CEO and managing director of Australian Rail Track Corporation.

Mr Miller joins Inland Rail after five years as CEO of Adbri, an Australian construction materials manufacturing company.

Mr Johnson brings significant experience to both roles with a mix of governance, business operations and management experience as Interim CEO of ARTC and former group executive of ARTC’s Hunter Valley Network.

IRPL is a wholly owned subsidiary of ARTC and is building the Inland Rail project.

Michael Bange

Bange recognised by ICAC

Cotton Seed Distributors commercial research manager Michael Bange was awarded the 2023 International Cotton Advisory Committee Researcher of the Year at the 81st Plenary Meeting held at Mumbai in December last year.

Dr Bange received the award from ICAC chief scientist Dr Keshav Kranthi.

He accepted it and thanked the ICAC and those who have provided research support.  

As part of the event, Dr Bange addressed the conference on the impact of climate change on global cotton production.

The meeting was the first in-person gathering since 2019.

Attendees from various sectors of the cotton textile value chain explored the conference’s overarching theme, “Cotton Value Chain: Local Innovations for Global Prosperity.”


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