People on the move

People on the Move in the grain industry

Grain Central June 24, 2024

Former Wickepin grain grower Gary Lang has been announced as the new GRDC Western Region Panel Chair. Photo: Evan Collis/GRDC

  • New GRDC Western Panel chair
  • Simson elected WFO vice president
  • Vale Frank Hadley
  • Poole inducted into Ag Hall of Fame
  • Inaugural board to head ZNE-AgCRC
  • Gurney joins Agfert
  • Changes at RLF
  • New SAGIT trustees
  • Young Grower of the Year named
  • New Loam Bio appointment
  • Taylor joins Allied Pinnacle

New GRDC Western Panel chair

Gary Lang from Wickepin in Western Australia has been appointed as the new chair of the Grains Research and Development Corporation Western Region Panel.

Mr Lang is already an active member of panel, which he joined in 2020, and will take over the role in September 2024 from Darrin Lee, who has been its chair since 2018.

GRDC Board chair John Woods congratulated Mr Lang on his appointment and paid tribute to outgoing chair Darrin Lee.

“Since his appointment as a member of the GRDC Western Region Panel, Gary has been a significant and valued contributor, ensuring GRDC investments reflect the priorities of western region growers to deliver real impact on farm,” Mr Woods said.

Mr Lang has been a grower for 42 years, is a past president and life member of the Facey Group, and has also served in several of the grower group’s committee roles.

Mr Woods also thanked Mr Lee for his contribution to GRDC and wished him well for his future endeavours.

“I would like to thank Darrin for his time on the GRDC Western Panel and as Panel chair, for his leadership and insight into the needs and priorities of western growers.”

Simson elected WFO vice president

National Farmers’ Federation immediate past president Fiona Simson has been elected as the World Farmers’ Organisation vice president.

Fiona Simson addressing the National Press Club on her last day as NFF president. Photo: National Press Club

The NFF nominated Ms Simson, who was subsequently elected at the WFO General Assembly in Rome, and is believed to be the first Australian representative to be elected at this level.

“This elevates the NFF’s voice at the table, ensuring Australian farmers will be heard in international conversations on global agricultural policy and how food and fibre are produced in Australia,” NFF president David Jochinke said.

Ms Simson has previously served on the WFO’s women and youth committees, and in the past year has been the Oceania representative on the WFO Board.

“Farmers are at the forefront of the big issues facing the world, like climate change, food security and sustainability,” Ms Simson said.

“There are many competing voices on these issues, but it’s critical farmers present a united front and show global policy makers we can be part of the solution.”

The WFO is comprised agricultural bodies from across the globe with membership organised into six regional constituencies: Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, Latin America and North America.

Vale Frank Hadley

One of the the pioneers of the Australia cotton industry Frank Hadley passed away this month at the age of 97.

Frank Hadley. Photo: CSD

Mr Hadley came to Australia from California with his friend Paul Kahl in 1961, and purchased a property near Wee Waa.

In 1962, he and Mr Kahl helped establish the Namoi Cotton Cooperative to build a local gin, as a local alternative to the nearest facility in Brisbane.

Mr Hadley was also one of seven local growers who conducted the first Cotton Seed Distributors meeting in Wee Waa in 1967, and was later elected as the organisation’s first chairman.

CSD chief executive officer Ian Taylor said Mr Hadley had an unwavering commitment to the cotton industry.

“Frank Hadley’s contributions to both CSD and the Australian cotton industry are immeasurable,” Mr Taylor said.

“His legacy will continue to inspire us for generations.” 

Poole inducted into Ag Hall of Fame

The Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia has inducted the late Michael Leslie Poole into the WA Agricultural Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifelong dedication to agricultural science and innovation.

Mr Poole, (1 September 1943 – 4 September 2022), made significant strides in agricultural productivity and played a pivotal role in the introduction and expansion of canola farming in WA.

During his extensive career, Poole worked with the Western Australian Department of Agriculture, focusing on various research areas, including crop and pasture production, weed competition, and the development of new cropping systems.

He held numerous key positions, such as director of enterprise development and executive director of Plant Industry at the Department of Agriculture and later served as executive chair at CSIRO’s Centre for Environment and Life Sciences.

Inductee Michael Leslie Poole’s family members at left: Chris Poole, Alison Poole, Emily Poole and Claire Keenan, alongside Governor of Western Australia Chris Dawson and his wife Darrilyn Dawson. Photo: RASWA

Dr Keith Croker, who nominated Mr Poole for the accolade said he “was always collaborative and understated, immensely competent”.

“Mick had a particular capacity for bringing others together in collaborative teams focused on a common problem, identifying practical solutions to the difficulties of farming on West Australia’s challenging soils and climates,” Mr Croker said.

Since its inception in 1999, the Hall of Fame has honoured 67 individuals, including farmers, scientists, business leaders, academics, and agricultural innovators.

Inaugural board to head ZNE-AgCRC

The Zero Net Emissions Agriculture Cooperative Research Centre (ZNE-AgCRC) has announced its inaugural Board with four new directors joining three continuing directors.

Nick Austin

The ZNE-Ag CRC is an initiative brokered by The University of Queensland and Queensland Department of Agriculture and involves a consortium of 74 partners across industry, education and government.

Chair and founding director, Deb Cousins said each member was an exceptionally accomplished individual and expert in their field, and included representation from the family farm right through to internationally-recognised experts in the global agribusiness and technology sectors.

The new directors include:

  • Nick Austin, an expert in agriculture and natural resources with experience accelerating technology translation;
  • Kat Giles, a veterinarian with experience in research, red meat production, supply chains and cropping;
  • Melinee Leather, who runs a family-owned beef cattle operation in Central Queensland; and
  • Chris Murphy, a respected advisor, specialising in commercial agribusiness.

They will join continuing directors: chair Dr Cousins, Tress Walmsley and Tony Lee.

The new CRC commences operations July 1.

Gurney joins Agfert

Family-owned business Agfert Fertilizers has appointed Tim Gurney as its chief officer business growth and relations.

Tim Gurney.

From his base in South Australia, Mr Gurney is working to build upon Agfert’s existing supply chain which services customers across Australia.

His role also includes building the market and relationships for Agfert’s patented N-shield urea technology, which reduces volatilisation and leaching to maximise crop uptake of nitrogen, and significantly reduce emissions.

“Working with the Agfert team, I’m heading up furthering the reach of our existing supply chain out of Balaklava and looking to turbo-charge the growth of Agfert and its N-shield technology,” Mr Gurney said.

Mr Gurney brings to the role his extensive experience in bulk handling and grower relations, and has joined Agfert after seven years with SA’s T-Ports, where he was instrumental in setting up its Eyre Peninsula and Wallaroo sites.

Changes at RLF

Ken Hancock

Crop-nutrition company RLF AgTech announced via a statement to the ASX the termination of managing director and CEO Ken Hancock on June 4.

Mr Hancock had held the managing director role since 2001.

The RLF board of directors appointed executive director Gavin Ball as acting managing director with immediate effect to ensure no disruption to day-to-day business operations while the board identifies a suitable replacement.

Mr Ball has in-depth knowledge of RLF and its operations, being a founding director of the company and currently has executive responsibility for Southeast Asia Sales and Distribution.

RLF was founded in 1991 to manufacture and market high efficiency broad spectrum liquid fertilisers for agriculture.

New SAGIT trustees

Experienced grain industry professionals Lou Flohr and Felicity Turner are the newest trustees set to join the South Australian Grain Industry Trust.

Both bring a depth of agricultural knowledge, experience and corporate governance to the role, with Lou starting immediately, and Felicity to start in early 2025.

Lou Flohr and Felicity Turner. Photo: SAGIT

Ms Flohr is a grain grower at Lameroo, where she farms with her partner Andy, their three children and her parents Janet and Gary.

She previously worked as an agronomist, and was a on GRDC’s Southern Panel, and is currently undertaking governance and leadership training through the GrainGrowers OnBoard program.

Based in the upper South East, Ms Turner farms with her husband Mark and has experience in managing research and development projects and extension for organisations such as Ag Excellence Alliance, MacKillop Farm Management Group, Southern Farming Systems, Mallee Sustainable Farming and Women Together Learning.

SAGIT chair Andrew Barr said the decision was made to appoint both candidates following Max Young’s retirement earlier this year and fellow trustee Ted Langley’s term with SAGIT set to end in early 2025.

“We saw this as an opportunity to do some forward planning and lock in both of these exceptional candidates as trustees,” Dr Barr said.

GPSA chair John Gladigau said “the wealth of experience both Lou and Felicity bring with their research backgrounds along with their personal farm business experience will be invaluable as SAGIT continues to deliver positive results for SA grain growers”.

Young Grower of the Year winner

Innovative young farmer with a passion for industry sustainability, Western Australia’s Zeke Zalsman has claimed the 2024 Corteva Agriscience Young Grower of the Year. 

Award winner, Zeke Zalsman, and Corteva Agriscience Marketing Manager, Nick Koch. Photo: Corteva

Announced at the Horticulture Awards for Excellence at Hort Connections in Melbourne, Mr Zalsman from Oldbury, was recognised for his commitment to sustainability and a zest for innovation that has propelled him into new ventures. 

He is the second generation to be at the helm of his family’s business, Zaldeesh Farms, which specialises in the production of capsicums and eggplants, as well as growing pomegranates using wastewater from the greenhouses. 

“My parents started over 30 years ago as field growers, and over time we’ve built greenhouses and learnt the different features we need for our unique Perth climate,” Mr Zalsman said. 

Corteva Agriscience marketing manager, Nick Koch, said Mr Zalsman was an inspiring young leader for the industry. 

“Zeke should be congratulated for his pioneering efforts to increase the accessibility of a technology capable of future-proofing protected cropping businesses against rising costs, carbon footprint and threats to social licence,” Mr Koch said. 

New Loam Bio appointment

With a decade of experience helping some of the world’s biggest agricultural companies become more sustainable, Catrina Matheson has joined New South Wales biotech company Loam Bio as senior commercial marketing manager.

Catrina Matheson

After obtaining a master’s degree in sustainable agriculture from Charles Sturt University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, Ms Matheson worked as an agronomist in Geraldton.

She has since had experience as a territory sales manager at Syngenta in Wagga Wagga, before moving to Canada where she worked for Conexus Credit Union, Syngenta, Nutrien, Edifice, and Vantage

“I’m thrilled to be able to build on my experience delivering real, impactful results to growers, working alongside Loam’s diverse team of the world’s best agronomists, scientists, microbiologists and farmers, to make it easier than ever for farmers to add unmatched, science-backed value to their existing operations,” Ms Matheson said.

Founded and based out of Orange, in the Central West of NSW, Loam Bio has pioneered world-leading technology that delivers innovative production and climate solutions to the agriculture sectors.

Taylor joins Allied Pinnacle

Flour and bakery manufacturer Allied Pinnacle has announced Melinda Taylor as the organisation’s head of product and growth.

Melinda Taylor

Ms Taylor’s responsibilities will extend across marketing, brand, product, ingredients and innovation, setting the consumer-centric strategic direction for both Allied Pinnacle and its New Zealand business, Champion.

She brings more than 25 years’ experience in the consumer goods industry as well as working in marketing roles for Unilever in ANZ and globally.

“I’m thrilled to have someone of Melinda’s calibre leading the team as we continue to grow,” Allied Pinnacle CEO David Pitt said.

Ms Taylor said she was thrilled to join Allied Pinnacle and Champion.

“I’m looking forward to working with the team to accelerate growth and continue to take market share,” Ms Taylor said.

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