Wiese primed for grain industry challenges

Wiese primed for grain industry challenges

Agribusiness
 GIWA chairman for the past three years who stood down last week at the annual general meeting Bob Nixon (centre), Kalannie, with new chairman and continuing chairman of the GIWA oat council Ashley Wiese, Highbury, and new vice chairwoman Tress Walmsley, InterGrain.

GIWA chairman for the past three years who stood down last week at the annual general meeting Bob Nixon (centre), Kalannie, with new chairman and continuing chairman of the GIWA oat council Ashley Wiese, Highbury, and new vice chairwoman Tress Walmsley, InterGrain.

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"I'm adventurous in that I like trying something different & giving it a good crack."

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NEW GIWA chairman Ashley Wiese believes Western Australian grains farmers face an exciting future.

An innovative fourth-generation farmer at Highbury, south of Narrogin, Mr Wiese runs a 4400 hectare contemporary cropping operation of wheat, barley, canola and lupins, but with a special focus on growing oats and oaten hay for export.

He also runs a flock of about 4000 composite Merino ewes for wool and lamb production on about 1000ha of pasture rotation.

Mr Wiese farms with business partner and wife Jo and they have three children Ruby, 21, Grace, 19 and Louis, 14.

But what sets Mr Wiese apart from many other graingrowers is he also grows quinoa as a rotation crop and washes, processes and packages it on his farm as a paddock-to-plate retail-ready product marketed under the Three Farmers brand.

Mr Wiese is part of the business partnership formed with Dumbleyung farmer Megan Gooding and agronomist Garren Knell to grow, process and market the South American plant, which is often described as a superfood.

After about six years of research and experimenting with quinoa, Three Farmers received a $500,000 Coles supermarkets grant to establish a processing plant on the Wiese farm and began local processing in 2016 supplying Coles.

He said his direct marketing experience with quinoa and with export hay and other enterprise customers had taught him the value of building personal relationships along the supply chain.

"I'm adventurous in that I like trying something different and giving it a good crack," Mr Wiese said.

At the GIWA annual general meeting last week he was elected chairman to replace Kalannie farmer and 2014 Nuffield scholar Bob Nixon who has stood down after three years to pursue other opportunities.

Mr Wiese was an active vice chairman to Mr Nixon for those three years and will also retain his role as chairman of GIWA's Oat Council.

Tress Walmsley, chief executive officer of seed breeder InterGrain, is the new GIWA vice chairwoman.

As a former accountant who took over the family farm, Mr Wiese said his active participation in industry matters began when aged in his 20s he joined the producers' council of The Grain Pool of WA, which was created in 1975 to market WA grains.

"That was eventually rolled into CBH Group and I joined the growers advisory council and I chaired that for some years," Mr Wiese said.

Having a special interest in oats, he helped Pingelly farmer Ray Marshall establish the Western Oats Alliance.

"After the collapse of the single desk, we (oat growers) weren't being represented and the Western Oats Alliance was set up to do that,' he said.

"Then in 2008, the Western Oats Alliance merged into GIWA.

"That has been really interesting, having representatives from the whole supply chain sitting down around the table to discuss issues and provide a perspective.

"I think it is invaluable in that it enables market information to be relayed directly down the supply chain to the growers and right back to the plant breeders."

Mr Wiese said he believed creation in August of industry peak body Grains Australia was an important move.

"I think graingrowers are in for an exciting time under Grains Australia," he said.

"I believe it's very important when dealing with export markets for the grains industry to come together as one brand and it's also important in dealing with government for the industry to be united.

"We (GIWA) are very supportive of Grains Australia but at this early stage we are not quite sure how we fit in that organisation."

Mr Wiese paid tribute to Mr Nixon who has not yet announced his future plans and to the GIWA staff and volunteers.

"GIWA runs on a lot of volunteered time and I can't speak highly enough of the staff and the volunteers who head our commodity councils," he said.

At GIWA's Diversifying and Value Adding Western Australian Grain forum following the annual meeting last week Food and Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan acknowledged the service of Mr Nixon and Mr Wiese on behalf of the WA grains industry.

"I have every confidence you are going on to even bigger and better things which is all very exciting for us here in WA," Ms MacTiernan told Mr Nixon.

"I congratulate Ashley Wiese and Tress Walmsley also.

"Ash I know that you are very progressive and that you will take this organisation forward."

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