People on the move

People on the Move in the grain industry

Grain Central, November 2, 2023

NFF president David Jochinke.

  • Jochinke takes reins at NFF 
  • Trethowan wins Farrer medal 
  • New head for Grains Australia 
  • Storage specialists appointed 
  • Sheehy named IBD president
  • Lawson Grains appoints CEO  
  • Five Under 30 winners announced
  • Promotion for Nick Reid
  • NZGSTA gives lifetime awards
  • Alan Cruickshank remembered
  • Inland Rail chair doubles as interim CEO

Jochinke takes reins at NFF 

Victorian grain and livestock producer David Jochinke has been elected president of the National Farmers’ Federation, succeeding Fiona Simson who steps down after seven years in the role. 

Hailing from Murra Warra in western Victoria, Mr Jochinke has been NFF vice president since 2017, and was Victorian Farmers Federation president from 2016 to 2020. 

In elections held last month, Western Australia grower John Hassall, East Pingelly, has been appointed NFF vice president, while Queensland cotton grower Hamish McIntyre has become an NFF director. 

“Australian agriculture has so much opportunity ahead of it as we continue striving for our $100 billion vision, but right now, we’re also facing enormous challenges from a difficult season in many parts of the country to a trying policy environment in Canberra,” Mr Jochinke said.  

“I look forward to working hard for farmers across Australia to give them a say on the issues facing the sector.” 

In paying tribute to Ms Simson for her service to the sector, Mr Jochinke said she has left an incredible legacy that will resonate for years to come”.  

“She’s left nothing on the table, and her considered, collaborative and engaging leadership has left farmers everywhere in a far stronger position.” 

Trethowan wins Farrer medal 

Professor Richard Trethowan is the recipient of the 2022 Farrer Memorial Medal after being nominated for the award by director of The Sydney Institute of Agriculture, Prof. Brent Kaiser 

“Richard is a living legend in the grains industry, a world-leading plant breeder,” Prof. Kaiser said, adding that 45 wheat cultivars have been directly released to farmers from Prof. Trethowan’s s research across 13 countries. 

“Developing cultivars for agriculture is the chief measure of impact for a plant breeder.”

Professor Richard Trethowan.

The Farrer Memorial Trust was established in 1911 to perpetuate the memory of William James Farrer, and Prof. Trethowan said he was honoured to be the 2022 recipient. 

“As William Farrer essentially established the wheat industry in Australia, this acknowledgement has special significance for me,” Prof. Trethowan said. 

“I have been a wheat breeder in Mexico, Victoria, Narrabri and now a wheat pre-breeder at The University of Sydney, and our research improves not only Australian wheat, but globally it contributes significantly to enhancing food security.  

“I’m excited to continue to be involved in cutting edge research exploiting hybrid vigour to further increase productivity and yield potential by circumnavigating self-fertilisation, which will change how we breed and market wheat for Australia and the world.”

New head for Grains Australia  

Experienced WA agribusiness executive and director Andrew Young has been appointed chair of Grains Australia. 

Mr Young replaces inaugural chair and respected industry leader Terry Enright, who has served as chair since Grains Australia’s inception in 2020, and stepped down from the board following Grains Australia’s recent AGM. 

Grains Australia is responsible for vital industry services and functions that improve the industry’s competitiveness and profitability. 

“Andrew has served with distinction on the board since its inception and acted as interim Chief Executive Officer in 2022, collaboratively bringing to life much of the early structure, team, commodity councils, and Grains Australia programs,” GRDC chair John Woods said. 

“In his board and CEO roles, he has demonstrated the leadership qualities required to ensure that Grains Australia continues to enhance the profitability and competitiveness of Australian grain into the future.” 

Grains Australia chair Andrew Young.

Mr Young is a non-executive chair of grain export business Plum Grove and chair of Westpork, WA’s largest pork producer and its joint-venture processing and food-service company Dardanup Butchering Company. 

He is also a non-executive director of the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, and is part of the Strategic Review Group for Grains Australia and AEGIC. 

Mr Woods commended the chairmanship of Mr Enright, a former grain and livestock producer from WA’s southern region who has long played a prominent role in Australian agricultural research. 

“Terry has been integral in successfully steering Grains Australia into a position where it is delivering genuine value on behalf of grain growers,” Mr Woods said. 

New to the Grains Australia board is Andrew Earle, who has spent three years on the Grains Australia Advisory Committee and served for 10 years on the Grain Producers Australia Board, including as deputy chair.  

Mr Earle is managing partner of the Bullawarrie farming operation at Thallon in south-west Queensland.  

Storage specialists appointed

Following the retirement of Warwick-based grain-storage specialist Philip Burrill, Alex Conway and Brock Dembowski have been appointed to GRDC’s Grain Storage Extension team to work with industry stakeholders, primarily in Qld and NSW. 

Retiring grain-storage specialist Philip Burrill with Alex Conway and Brock Dembowski. Photo: GRDC

Toowoomba-based and has a background in agricultural engineering and grain storage R&D, Mr Conway worked under Mr Burrill early in his extension career. 

Based in Townsville, Mr Dembowski works on tropical grain production and storage, and has a key role supporting North Qld growers and working with the Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Post-Harvest Commodity Protection Unit.

“Growers are definitely not on their own now that Philip has retired,” GRDC’s Grain Storage Extension Project national co-ordinator Chris Warrick said. 

“Through the 1800 WEEVIL support line, growers can still contact specialists such as, Alex, Brock or myself with any on-farm storage queries.”  

Sheehy named IBD president

The Institute of Brewing & Distilling has appointed Dr Megan Sheehy as president, taking over from Bhavya Mandanna, who will remain on the board of trustees as immediate past president.

Dr Megan Sheehy.

The announcement was made in September at the 19th IBD AGM, where Raphaël Grisoni was appointed vice president of the IBD; Mr Grisoni is an international drinks industry leader with a wealth of experience in the Scotch whisky, champagne and rum industries.

IBD is the world’s leading provider of professional development in brewing, distilling and related industries.

Based in Adelaide, Dr Sheehy has more than 20 years’ experience in the barley, malting and brewing industries, and has worked with Joe White Maltings, Lion, and Barley Australia, prior to last year joining Grains Australia as general manager classification.

Dr Sheehy is a Fellow of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) and a former director and chair for the Board of Management for the IBD’s Asia Pacific Section.

“It is an honour and a privilege to accept the role of the President of the IBD and I would like to thank Bhavya and the Board of Trustees for the immense amount of work that has been completed over the last two years,” Dr Sheehy said.

Lawson Grains appoints CEO 

Lawson Grains has a new chief executive officer in Angus Blair, who joined the business in 2014.

Mr Blair’s previous role at Lawson Grains was general manager commercial, with responsibility for operations, investment analysis, acquisitions, budgeting, and management of the company’s supply chain.  

Lawson Grains CEO Angus Blair.

Prior to joining Lawson Grains, Mr Blair worked in investment research and consulting. 

As CEO, Mr Blair is responsible for driving the overall strategy for the Lawson Grains business, which is one of Australia’s leading corporate farmers with a collective 120,000ha across 11 aggregations in NSW and WA. 

Last year, Alberta Investment Management Company and New Forests acquired Lawson Grains from Macquarie Asset Management, and New Agriculture was established as a business division of New Forests. 

“Angus is an emerging leader with a deep understanding of the business, its culture, and its importance to the Australian agriculture sector, making him the ideal candidate to lead Lawson Grains in the next stage of growth,” New Agriculture director Bruce King said. 

Five Under 30 winners announced

Grain Trade Australia has announced the winners of its inaugural Five Under 30 program, which recognises the importance of engaging further with younger people in the industry, and fostering an environment that nurtures future leaders.

The annual Five Under 30 program was launched to assist, guide and recognise future leaders in the industry, as well as boost involvement of younger members in GTA activities.

CHS Broadbent grain merchant Jess Kirkpatrick.

Recipients are offered additional opportunities and involvement in GTA activities, mentorship and guidance over a 12-month period.

Given the lower level of diversity historically within the agricultural sector, the program is particularly focussed on creating mentoring opportunities that are inclusive and actively seek to mentor individuals from underrepresented backgrounds.

The application process for the Five Under 30 program was open to eligible participants from GTA member organisations under the age of 30 at the time of application.

GTA’s first Five Under 30 cohort comprises:

  • Cooper Vinci: Grain accumulation, Fletchers International Exports, NSW;
  • Edwina Cockburn: Quality services manager, Viterra, SA;
  • Jess Kirkpatrick: Grain merchant, CHS Broadbent, Vic;
  • Michael Shanahan: Customer success relationship manager, AgriDigital, SA;
  • Tessa Bevilacqua: Trade support, CBH Group, WA.

Promotion for Nick Reid

Leading Victorian stockfeed business Reid Stockfeeds has appointed Nick Reid as CEO.

Mr Reid joined the family business in 2014, initially as group sales manager, and moved into the general manager role in 2018.

In a statement, the company said Mr Reid’s promotion to CEO reflects his significant contribution to the company in recent years.

“He has consistently demonstrated exceptional dedication, leadership and a deep understanding of our industry, our business strategies and our employees, customers, and stakeholders,” the company said.

No changes have been made to company’s board, with Nick’s father Ian Reid retaining the role of executive chairman.

Nick Reid is Reid Stockfeeds’ first CEO since the departure in recent years of Robert Jenkins, which saw some functions covered by chief financial officer Bruce Le Maitre, who recently left the company and has been replaced by Lou Opie.

Reid Stockfeeds CEO Nick Reid.

NZGSTA gives lifetime awards

THE New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association has presented its first lifetime membership awards to Townsend Seeds International managing director Lynn Townsend, Agriseeds co-founder Selwyn Manning and retired PGG Wrightson executive Dudley Knox.

NZ Plant Breeding and Research Association general manager Thomas Chin presents Lynn Townsend with his NZGSTA lifetime award.

Presentation of the awards took place last month in Auckland at the association’s annual conference.

Based at Lincoln on the Canterbury Plains, Townsend Seeds International was founded in by Mr Townsend in 1997, and supplies domestic and offshore markets.

Mr Manning co-founded Canterbury-based business Agriseeds, now a subsidiary of Barenbrug, and is a past president of the International Seed Federation.

Mr Knox began has career with Pyne Gould Guinness in 1960 and stayed with the company until his retirement from PGG Wrightson in 2009.

All three men have contributed significantly to the development of the seed and grain industries in New Zealand and beyond.

Alan Cruickshank remembered

The research and agricultural community has paid tribute to well-known and highly respected Qld-based researcher Alan Cruickshank, who passed away last month after a battle with brain cancer.

Alan Cruickshank.

Mr Cruickshank was a much-respected member of the close-knit QDAF Hermitage Research facility team on the southern Downs, and was well known throughout the northern region.

GRDC chair and Goondiwindi grower John Woods said Mr Cruickshank would be greatly missed by the research community and wider agriculture sector, as well as by the many growers and advisers who benefited from his knowledge and experience.

“On behalf of a grateful industry, GRDC would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Alan’s family – Susan, Liam and Kate – and his close friends and colleagues, particularly those who worked alongside him at the Hermitage,” Mr Woods said.

“Alan was an engaging, good-humoured researcher who readily engaged with people and was always willing and available to share his research.

“He was passionate about his work and his legacy to the peanut and sorghum industries will be the close to 40 years he spent working closely with industry as a plant breeder committed to improving yields, disease and insect resistance and grain quality.”

Chair doubles as interim CEO at Inland Rail

Chair of the Inland Rail Board Robert Rust will serve as Inland Rail’s interim CEO and executive chair until the CEO position it is now recruiting for is filled.

With over 40 years’ experience in the delivery of major projects in both the private and public sectors, Mr Rust has an acute understanding of the many complexities of delivering a major infrastructure project like Inland Rail.

Mr Rust replaces Rebecca Pickering, who left the role after about two years in the position.


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