People on the move

People on the move in the grains and cropping sector

Grain Central December 19, 2017

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

  • Rathbone joins Delta board
  • Umberger appointed to GPSA board
  • GRDC boosts senior management
  • Birchip board appointment
  • New barley executive chair
  • Simson returned as NFF head
  • New Rabobank chief
  • UK professor to head organics research
  • Machinery board changes
  • Agrifood Award winners
  • Grain Leaders nominees
  • Graham Centre graduates
  • Annual Pacific Seeds agent awards
  • GPSA women’s conference sponsorship


Rathbone joins Delta board

Former Nufarm managing director, Doug Rathbone, has joined the board of the NSW-based, independently-owned rural services firm, Delta Agribusiness.

Doug Rathbone

Mr Rathbone is a well-known industry entrepreneur who, over a 40-year career, led the transformation of Nufarm from a small Australian agribusiness company into one of the world’s leading crop protection and seed companies.

Delta Agribusiness has a network of 25 business locations across the NSW South West Slopes, Riverina, Macquarie, Central West, Orana, Namoi and Gwydir Valleys.

The group employs over 200 people, including more than 30 farm advisers and agronomy specialists.


Umberger appointed to GPSA board

THE board of Grain Producers SA has appointed Professor Wendy Umberger as an independent director, taking the board to its full complement of nine members.

Wendy Umberger

Professor Umberger is the University of Adelaide’s Professor of Agricultural Economics and Food Policy and executive director of its Centre for Global Food and Resources, which focuses on economic issues affecting global food and agricultural value chains.

She is the immediate past president of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, a non-profit society promoting research relevant to Australasia in agricultural, environmental, food, and resource economics and agribusiness.

In addition, she is a director of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics – a $55 million international research for development organisation operating in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to joining the University of Adelaide in 2006, she was an Associate Professor at Colorado State University and was raised on a beef cattle and cropping property in South Dakota in the United States, where her family still farms.

GPSA chair Wade Dabinett said Prof Umberger would bring a range of skills in board governance, knowledge of global agricultural markets and trade policy, and agricultural extension to the organisation.

Professor Umberger joins fellow independent director Andrew Goode and the board’s seven non-executive, grower-elected directors.


GRDC boosts senior management

THE Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has boosted its leadership capacity with the appointment of Nicole Jensen as general manager for the newly created Genetics and Enabling Technologies business group and Lucy Broad as general manager for the Grower Extension and Communications business group

Lucy Broad and Nicole Jensen

Dr Jensen has a PhD in quantitative genetics from the University of Queensland and joins the GRDC from her previous role as Supply Innovation lead with The Climate Corporation, Monsanto’s digital agriculture flagship, in St Louis, Missouri, US.

She has a wealth of experience in breeding and related activities arising from several roles in the seed industry, including positions as Global Trait Integration Breeding lead for Monsanto and principal sorghum breeder with Pacific Seeds/Advanta at Toowoomba.

Ms Broad has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in agronomy, and joins the GRDC from her role as managing director of Cox Inall Communications and Cox Inall Change.

She has spent her career in communications, first with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and for the last 13 years overseeing communications and behaviour change strategies for clients across the agriculture, natural resource management, government and not-for-profit sectors.


Birchip board appointment

SIMON Craig has been appointed the new board member of the Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) in Victoria.

Simon Craig

Mr Craig is managing director and owner of the consultancy business, Agronomise, and a partner and lead consultant for Farm360, both based in Swan Hill.

He replaces Dr Sara Hely who resigned as a result of increasing work commitments with the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR).

Mr Craig joins farmer directors Alan Bennett, Leo Delahunty, John Ferrier, Brad Martin, Ian McClelland, Cherie Reilly and Caroline Welsh, and other co-opted specialists Zvi Hochman (CSIRO), Peter Myers and David Hudson (SGS Consulting).


New barley executive chair

BARLEY Australia has appointed Dr Megan Sheehy to the role of executive chairperson, commencing January 1, 2018.

Megan Sheehy

Dr Sheehy, who has performed the role of executive manager for the past two years, takes over from Andrew Gee who retires on December 31, 2017, after seven years at the helm.

Ralph Nischwitz has been appointed the new executive manager for Barley Australia, commending on January 1, 2018.




Simson returned as NFF head

THE Federal Government has re-appointed Fiona Simson as president of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

Fiona Simson

The Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, said Ms Simson had made an outstanding contribution to the $60 billion agriculture sector over the past year.

“She has great practical knowledge as a farmer herself, along with considerable experience representing farmers, and will continue to be an asset to our sector,” she said.

“We also welcome the appointment of three new Board Directors to the NFF—Robyn Bryant, Mark King and Derek Schoen—who bring an important mix of farming and industry representative experience to the organisation.”


New Rabobank chief

RABOBANK Australia Limited has appointed Sir Henry van der Heyden as its new chairman, succeeding Bill Gurry who will be retiring from the board but remain as a member until a later date to be announced.

Henry van der Heyden

Sir Henry is chairman of Rabobank New Zealand Limited and has been a member of the Rabobank Australia board since 2012.

Announcing the appointment, chairman of the global Rabobank Group Wiebe Draijer said Sir Henry’s extensive knowledge and experience as an international agribusiness leader and company director, coupled with his strong understanding of Rabobank Australia and its market, made him a natural successor in the role.

“The former chairman of global dairy giant Fonterra Co-operative Group (from 2002 until 2012), Sir Henry was a key architect in the formation of the Fonterra cooperative and is one of the most skilled and respected leaders in agribusiness in the Australasian region,” Mr Draijer said.


UK professor to head organics research

AFTER working with farmers and supermarket giant Tesco in the United Kingdom, Professor Carlo Leifert has relocated to Australia to take up the position of director of the new Centre for Organics Research at Southern Cross University.

Carlo Leifert

“Australia already has the largest area of organic farming land in the world and with a strong growth in demand for high quality food in both Australia and Asia, there is tremendous potential to grow the organic farming sector here,” Professor Leifert said.

“The Centre for Organics Research will look not only at new ways of producing crops and livestock without pesticides, but also improved evaluation of the nutritional value of organic food and a better understanding of the organic food market.

The Centre for Organics Research is a collaboration between Southern Cross University, based at Lismore in northern NSW, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).


Machinery board changes

THE Tractor and Machinery Association (TMA) has appointed two new board members.

Doug Robinson from the Power Farming Group (PFG) has joined the association, as has Nathan Everett, who will be replacing Ron Grasso, from CNH Industrial.


Agrifood Award winners

TWO inspiring young agrifood innovators fortifying Australia’s food security have been recognised for their contributions, winning the inaugural ICM Agrifood Awards administered by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).

James Hunt (Photo: Lauren Celenza, WANTFA)

La Trobe University agronomist and crop physiologist Dr James Hunt and NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) agricultural climatologist Dr Rebecca Darbyshire each received the $5000 ICM Agrifood Award.

The ICM Agrifood Award is a prestigious early career award open to all agrifood innovators, such as entrepreneurs, researchers and technologists.

Dr Hunt has dedicated his research to supporting grain growers across the Australian wheat belt to improve the productivity and profit of grain-based farms.

Rebecca Darbyshire

Since 2012, he has improved summer fallow management across southern and western grain regions of Australia; helped properly define optimal flowering and sowing dates in different Australian environments; and developed the “fast winter” wheat cultivar.

Dr Darbyshire, whose research focused on fruit and nut trees, is leading Australia on climate change readiness.


Grain Leaders nominees

NATIONAL grain farmers representative body, GrainGrowers, has announced the participants in the 2018 Australian Grain Leaders Program (AGLP).

The AGLP Program has been expanded for 2018 to include the whole of the supply chain in the grains industry.

The 2018 participants include three industry participants and eight grain farmers from across Australia:

Western Region

Amery Drage

  • Symon Allen, Kimba, SA
  • Nick Davis, Adelaide, SA
  • Amery Drage, Northampton, WA
  • Kathryn Fleay, Mingenew, WA
  • Mitch Mouritz, Hyden, WA
  • Nick Panizza, Williams, WA
  • Tess Walch, Streaky Bay, SA
Southern Region
  • Katrina Dicks, Sydney, NSW
  • Veronica Terry, Dairy Plains, Tas
Northern Region
  • Millie Bach, Jandowae, Qld
  • Henry Moxham, Coonamble, NSW


Graham Centre graduates

CROPPING industry students from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation featured prominently in this year’s line-up of PhD graduates from the Charles Sturt University (CSU) at Wagga Wagga, NSW.

The graduates were:

  • Susan Orgill and family

    Kyle Reynolds – awarded his PhD for research investigating if genetic engineering can be used to develop a more sustainable source of vegetable oil production.

  • Jesmin Aktar – who’s PhD showed perennial wheat can survive for three years, regrow and produce grain and forage, showing its potential as an option for mixed farmers.
  • Kylie Crampton – awarded her PhD for research examining root-lesion nematodes, a costly pest for the grain industry.
  • Emeritus professor Jim Pratley and Aaron Preston.

    Clare Flakelar – who’s PhD research has examined the bioactive compounds in canola oil and the impact of agronomic practices, processing and storage.

  • Susan Orgill – awarded her PhD for research demonstrating that the ability of soil to sequester carbon is driven by regional climate and soil properties more than farming practice.
  • Aaron Preston – who’s PhD research is set to help grain growers control annual ryegrass, with a faster testing method for herbicide resistance.


Annual Pacific Seeds agent awards

PACIFIC Seeds has recognised the industry’s best retailers and growers in southern Queensland at its annual Central and Southern Downs Agent Awards.

The winners are:
  • Gold medal award – Lisa Hanlon
  • Grower focus award – Felton Produce
  • Field service award – Raff Group; Millmerran, Pittsworth & Clifton
  • Customer service award – PB Agrifood

    Farmer of the Year, Arcadia Rural. Picture: Wayne Anderson, Jayne and Peter Anderson, and Pacific Seeds’ Bill Smith.

  • High flyer award – Varys Brookstead
  • Farmer service award – Landmark Group; Pittsworth, Colonsay, Toowoomba & Oakey
  • Agent excellence award – Pursehouse Rural; Warwick, Allora, Clifton, Pittsworth, Cecil Plains & Melrose
  • Agent of the year – Olsens Produce
  • Trial co-operator of the year – Jeude & Co
  • Farmer of the year – Arcadia Rural
  • Excellence in service award – Elders Group; Toowoomba & Gatton
  • Agent service award – NFW Group; Toowoomba Cecil Plains & Stanthorpe
  • Achiever award – Norco Rural
  • Achiever award – Killarney Co-Op


GPSA women’s conference sponsorship

GRAIN Producers SA will sponsor two female grain producers to attend the Thriving Women 2018 conference at Hahndorf in Germany on February 19 and 20.

The conference is hosted by WoTL – Women Together Learning – and aims to connect and advance women in agriculture and agribusiness, delivering new networks, knowledge and skills.

The sponsorship covers conference registration (valued at $445 each), conference dinner, travel and accommodation costs. The recipients only need to pay for any meals not included at the conference.

GPSA chair Wade Dabinett said GPSA wanted to further encourage the participation of women in the grains industry and help build their skills and knowledge in agribusiness by giving them exposure to other women in the industry.

To enter, applicants must submit an expression of interest up to 250 words outlining why they would like to attend the conference, why they would benefit, and their experiences as a woman in the grain industry.

Entries close at 5pm on Thursday, January 18, 2018. Entry forms can be downloaded from the GPSA website at


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