Filling gaps in grain governance

20 Mar, 2015 01:00 AM
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Andrew Carberry, GGL
At present we’re certainly agreeing on a lot more things than those we disagree on
Andrew Carberry, GGL

GRAIN producer organisations have formed a steering committee to work on further developing the governance structure for the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

In an impressive feat for the oft-fractured grain production sector, all the major national and State organisations, with the exception of Western Australia’s Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) are participating in the development of the committee.

Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman Andrew Weidemann said the forming of the committee was the continuation of work on governance, which began in 2013 with a review by consultants Marsden Jacob into ensuring the GRDC has a robust governance structure.

Mr Weidemann’s organisation is responsible for overseeing GRDC under the Primary Industry and Energy Research and Development (PIERD) Act.

He said it was critical growers lifted productivity and said GRDC had a big role to play in this.

“It’s crucial they deliver robust research, development and extension (RD&E) outcomes with their work and deliver clear benefits to growers.

“To do this we need to have an efficient system for managing funding.

“We have a group of nine State and national grain farmer bodies working on this issue and the level of agreement on this issue is extraordinarily strong,” Mr Weidemann said.

He said the committee would be following the strategic direction set by the Marsden Jacob review.

“After the report came out in 2014 the producer groups were unanimous in their acceptance of the recommendations of the Marsden Jacob review.

“Grain farmer organisations believe that while the GRDC model has served the industry exceptionally well in the past, changes in the market and the regulatory environment will require differing arrangements in the future.

“This means evolving the GRDC structure accordingly.

“At the same time we are very conscious that during any transitional approach, uncertainty must be minimised and the RD&E effort maintained.

“There is a great deal to do in taking this issue forward, working with both the industry and government, and it will be the responsibility of the steering committee to define and facilitate this process,” Mr Weidemann said.

It is intended that the first meeting of the steering committee will be held in April.

The organisations working together on this project include AgForce Queensland, Grain Growers Ltd, GPA, Grain Producers South Australia, NSW Farmers Association, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, VFF Grains Group, WA Farmers, and WA Grains Group.

GGL keen on consultation

The chair of Grain Growers Limited (GGL) is keen to get down to work on a review into governance of the GRDC.

With grain production groups from across the nation agreeing to form the industry-wide steering committee to map a path forward for the research organisation, GGL chair Andrew Carberry says the committee will be a good way to discuss the pros and cons of various plans.

A consultant’s report has thrown up the possibility of transitioning GRDC from a statutory authority to an industry owned company (IOC).

“The move to an IOC would be a big one, the steering committee will work through all positives and negatives to see the right decision is made.”

Mr Carberry said it was heartening to see nearly all the grower groups participating in the decision making process.

“We are working together and meeting quite regularly.”

He said the often divided production groups were working well together.

“At present we’re certainly agreeing on a lot more things than those we disagree on.”

From a GGL perspective, Mr Carberry said there were big opportunities in moving GRDC to an IOC structure, but these needed to be weighed up against the tried and true statutory authority model.

“There are restrictions in the way GRDC works at present due to its structure and they would probably be lessened as an IOC, but the statutory authority model has worked well over the years.

“They’re things we’ll be looking at.”

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FarmOnline
Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media

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