What about grower profit?

14 Aug, 2014 02:00 AM
Now more than ever broadacre grain producers need access to new ways of doing things.

A NUMBER of Western Australian growers have long called for a shake-up of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Last year WA farm consultant and Toodyay grain grower Paul McKenzie led the charge in openly criticising the GRDC by urging growers to become more aware of where levies they pay are being spent.

At the time Mr McKenzie claimed the organisation’s revenue had increased from $37 million to $177m in the last 20 years, while expenditure has virtually followed the same trend.

Largely the increased revenue has come from grower levies.

He found that in 1992 GRDC received $19m from grower levies, while that figure was $98m in 2012.

Of the recent review, Mr McKenzie said businesses had been changing to industry-owned models for a long time but “ended up with the same monkey in different pyjamas”.

“And therein lies the problem,” he said.

“You can change the logo on a shirt but the culture, practices and status quo is largely maintained despite the intentions.

“And that’s the intention of the vested interests that are involved in these sorts of organisations.”

Mr McKenzie said there was a time-honoured practice taking place when it came to the review and it was one that saw “certain organisations calling for a review when they already knew the pending outcome”.

He said what’s required, more than anything, is a change of structure but also a change of GRDC culture.

“Now more than ever broadacre grain producers need access to new ways of doing things which is a function of research and development,” Mr McKenzie said.

“Currently there’s a total lack of alignment with the returns that farmers get – and they’re the ones taking the risk and borrowing money to pay their levies.

“The outcome of the review is already written when one determines the scope of the review.”

Mr McKenzie said an industry-owned model is preferential and most of industry agrees that some compulsory contribution for science-based research is essential.

“All representatives on the board must have strong skill sets and be elected on a pro-rata basis for their contribution,” he said.

“Intellectual property should belong to shareholders, not third parties and when all this happens the GRDC will start to leave the dark ages behind.”

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14/08/2014 6:26:45 AM, on The Land

Do not forget that the Govt. (taxpayer) contributes around 40% of the funding for GRDC. As such this stakeholder wants to have a part say as well. If you seek to lessen the input of the taxpayer then you risk reduction in taxpayer contribution, and as a result less overall money available for grains R. & D.
Jock Munro
14/08/2014 7:18:06 AM, on The Land

Senator Bill Heffernan described the MLA director appointment process as "Kremlin like" and undemocratic. The GRDC is worse if anything and the director appointment by selection committee is rife with cronyism. The link between the State Farming Organisations, the GPA(with no members) and the GRDC upper echelon is very questionable indeed. This unholy alliance has virtually destroyed any semblance of process in NSW Farmers Grains.
Its Remarkable
14/08/2014 7:29:40 AM, on The Land

Interesting. So, on the basis of a 5-fold increase in levies paid ($19M to $98M, one assumes that crop production x price has increased 5-fold over 20 years. One would be tempted to call this a good story and must have some basis in R&D-driven varieties and practices. Yes, increasing costs are a problem, but I did not think GRDC had control of fert, fuel or machinery costs. Apart from the generic criticism, I could not identify what was proposed as a solution, apart from some vague hint at a tonnage based voting for 'representatives' on the board. Great. That'll fix everything.
angry australian
14/08/2014 1:52:50 PM, on Farm Weekly

"User pays,user says" it's a fair saying.if industry contributes 60% of the funds how come the Minister has the majority of the appointments? Under the ALP you end up with all sorts of postings for ex pollies and favoured researchers under the Coalition aspiring pollies in either case, NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Industry should have the majority say on how funds are spent, not jobs for the boys and girls
14/08/2014 3:58:03 PM, on The Land

Mr Mckenzie must be getting his information from deregul8, or vice versa, he's borrowing money to pay his levies too. If you are borrowing to pay your levies you're probably too far in.
15/08/2014 5:17:17 AM, on Farm Weekly

Get rid of governmnet 'investment' completely. At the moment this contribution is distorting where the total pool of funding is being directed for research. How many growers want their levies to go to 'research' into climate change? At the moment, our own funds are being used to prop up this ridiculous scienceless argument.
15/08/2014 7:03:44 AM, on The Land

To Deregul8, R. & D. for grains research is already in a parlous state. with State Govt. departments and CSIRO cutting back. We need a critical level of funding to combat the ever changing spectrum of disease, pests, and weeds (for example) amongst other factors. Further cuts in any investment (either Govt. or grower) may mean the collapse of some grain types if there is further reduction. Changing resistance spectrum in nature is a fact of life and if we drop our guard we are in a parlous state. Stem rust resistance in wheat is a prime example. UG99 in East Africa is a recent episode.
drowning in debt
15/08/2014 7:18:13 AM, on Farm Weekly

mark levies are deducted whether you make a profit or not. theres plenty of cockies that produce grain without makin a profit so presumably they are borrowing to pay the levies. not rocket science eh cobba? didnt help me as im now sold out by the bank. would hate to know how much money went to grdc in the name of 'research'. so while ya are still a disciple the reality is ur a slave to grdc
15/08/2014 7:30:40 AM, on Farm Weekly

All these problems offer profits to those who can solve them. Look at sclerotinia. Within years of emergence of it as a major problem, we have fungicide options and new varieties on their way from the commercial seed companies in the next 2 years. No thanks to GRDC I might add. Beet virus in Vicco this year, the new chemistries for systemic aphid control are coming from the chemical companies not GRDC research. The free market can solve a whole raft of problems if you let it function properly. GRDC is a waste of growers and many cases the banks money.
beacon boy
15/08/2014 7:32:54 AM, on Farm Weekly

to NSWNoTill. Could you name us the last innovation you adopted that wasn't discovered by a farmer rather than GRDC?
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