Back on the merry-go-round for GGA

Another year, another controversy it could have done without for the Grain Growers Association.

Optimism prevailed earlier in the year that after a tumultuous period, the organisation could finally get on with providing an important role in the grains industry – however it appears that politicking has won out once again.

The GGA is in a unique position among Australia's grain-based farmer organisations in that it is in a healthy financial position and has the resources to undertake 'big picture' work out of reach of the state-farm organisations.

With a strategic review to come out in the next few weeks, the scope was there for the GGA to liaise with the grower groups and facilitate work that could have strong positive outcomes for grain producers.

However, blood-letting like the axing of Dan Mangelsdorf from the chairman's position is going to leave the wider grains industry weary of working with such an unstable partner.

The issue at hand is not the merits of Mr Mangelsdorf as chairman versus new man John Eastburn, but more the manner and the motivation behind Mr Mangelsdorf's exit.

Several grains industry sources have claimed they had heard the reason for the board decision to axe Mr Mangelsdorf was due to a fit of pique that he had been annointed by GrainCorp powerbrokers as the chosen GGA representative on the GrainCorp board.

The story goes that two directors were annoyed with this and decided it was time for tit-for-tat, engaged another two directors and proceeded to oust Mr Mangelsdorf, under the guise of a perceived conflict of interest.

Should such a story be true, it is a fearful abrogation of duty to jeopardise the standing of the business, valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, that they represent for petty personal politics.

While not commenting on the validity of these claims, the fact that such a story is even doing the rounds and is considered a serious option by reliable sources, reflects poorly on the directors.

The fact no rationale has been given for Mr Mangelsdorf's exit also does nothing to hose down speculation.

The rumours surrounding the board coup are symptomatic of a parochialism among the GGA that has long been the source of frustration among GGA members outside its heartland of NSW.

GGA members in Victoria have expressed concern that long-held feuds, grudges and alliances among key NSW powerbrokers are having a negative effect on the organisation as a whole and that decisions are being made for the wrong reasons.

This latest GGA needs to be considered in the scope of farmer representation as a whole. Both Grains Council and the National Farmers Federation are coming off tough periods and are looking to rebuild some authority, while state farmer organisations are battling declining memberships and coffers.

The GGA is positioned in a strong spot to be a real source of leadership for grain farmers, and although there is no reason it cannot do this with a different chairman at the helm, spontaneous blood-letting for no acknowledged reason does little to strengthen its position.

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READER COMMENTS

Barely surviving
13/06/2008 6:46:15 AM

Gregor, if the truth be known there may have been a very serious reason Mr Mangelsdorf was let go. Perhaps sending submissions to government inquiries misrepresenting the Board and members may have had something to do with it, along with refusing to allow members to set Policy for the Board to follow. Democracy may be reborn into GGA over this dismissal. Give it a chance it has been a long time coming.
Average Wheat Grower
13/06/2008 5:22:32 PM

GGA chairman has misled Government in submissions regarding single desk marketing. His dismissal is the begining of members interests finnally having a say in the direction and policy of the organisation. With GrainCorp's representive out of the way, the future looks brighter than the past!
White lightning
16/06/2008 10:56:33 AM

Gregor is right on the money. If the Board had issues of relevance, then the Chairman should have had the opportunity to account for them. The grains industry has an enormously bright future, we need people with a vision for the future in these positions. Growers need to be part of the policy setting, but the directors need to be professional in exercising their duties...they failed last week.
BB
17/06/2008 4:49:19 AM

Your comments are spot on Gregor. Dan was a ray of hope for the future in the morass that Australian agriculture has become with petty jealousies and a mindset that all we have to do is cling to the past and alll will be well. We desperately need people of stature and vision to step up and lead. Vision and courage of conviction are the requirements of this demanding position. Maintaining the status quo and taking the easy road of agreeing with the vocal group when it is obvious change is needed is what has got our farm groups into this mess. It is now time for GGA members to have teir own revolt and remove the directors who have precipitated this sad day for Australian agriculture.
very concerned growers
19/06/2008 7:04:27 AM

I would like to congratulate BB ... I am interested to find out where I can sign up to join the revolt!! I, like many GGA members I have spoken with, are absolutley disgusted by the removal of Dan Mangelsdorf. A young educated articulate empathetic man such as Mr Mangelsdorf is exactly what GGA needs and has needed. He is the future of an organisation after too much interference from members finally, after the AGM that saw Mr Mangelsdorf majority elected by ALL members, had the chance to lead change and ensure sustainability and profitibility to the whole of industry - growers included. I am saddened that once again politics and a minority of uneducated growers have forced what may be the last turn for what was and could be with Mangelsdorf, the grains organisation to revolutionise the Australian industry.
Jock
19/06/2008 7:00:24 PM

BB and very concerned growers were born in the wrong era and wrong country. I would say that behind the iron curtain and during the cold war would have suited them just fine. Dan paid the price for allowing himself to be used and abused at the expense of the rank and file - he is lucky that he lasted as long as he did. He will receive more humiliation yet. The graincorp bd will pack him off soon and if he is not careful the GGA membership will roll him.
Average Wheat Grower
19/06/2008 7:15:45 PM

Of Mr Manglesdorf's vote at the past election approximately half his vote came from standing proxies from the VFF (Victorian Farmers Federation) as a result of their investment in GainCorp. Hardly a fair election by grower members !!!
very concerned growers
27/06/2008 12:44:03 PM

Jock and Average Wheat Grower it is very sad that once again ignorance has prevailed. I was not born in the wrong era and I doubt BB was either. We were born with common sense and an understanding of business and with that business ethics. I am once again saddened by the fact that you think people are abused at such a rank. The only abuse we keep seeing in this industry is from people such as yourselves. It is time to wake up and smell the roses. You will once again, at your own personal self interest, destroy GGA and have no worry in doing so. In my opinion you are the ones who will be humiliated.
Stop the Rubbish
27/06/2008 1:04:55 PM

Maybe Average Wheat Grower should stop listening to and spreading the misinformation out there and put his efforts into his farm, then he may become "Above Average". I think you will find that the VFF standing proxies would be about 5% of the total votes, barely a ripple in the pond.
Ted O'Brien
1/07/2008 3:57:43 PM

Why do we have so much confusion? I have to blame our mass reduced education system for this. Half educated graduates and their hangers on.
Grain of TruthRural Press grains writer Gregor Heard on the big issues facing the broadacre farmers today.

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