Agribusiness buzz in brief

Agribusiness buzz in brief


A quick look at what some of the players in agribusiness are doing and talking about


Freedom shares still suspended

Troubled dairy, cereals and snacks producer Freedom Foods has again extended its self-imposed suspension from trading on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Freedom suspended its shares from trading in June, then again in July, initially until the end of October.

This week the company announced they would not begin trading until November 30.

It has also postponed its November annual general meeting until a later date, yet to be set.

Company secretary Scott Standen said the business continued to work through its finalisation of accounts for the past financial year and a recapitalisation plan and would need the extra time to nail down its capitalisation agenda.

In June the maker of Australia's Own dairy products and Freedom and Heritage Mill cereals revealed accounting irregularities, including a $10 million blowout in debts to $14m, the shock discovery of stockpiles of outdated long life milk and other products held since 2017.

A deep forensic audit of its accounts was initiated soon after the resignation of managing director Rory Macleod and chief financial officer Campbell Nicholas.


Luxton retains CropLife role

Syngenta's Australia and New Zealand managing director Paul Luxton has been re-appointed for his fifth term as president of the national peak industry organisation for the plant science sector, CropLife Australia.

Mr Luxton (pictured) is joined on CropLife's executive by vice presidents Damien Ryan from Sipcam Pacific Australia and Joerg Ellmanns, from Bayer CropScience and corporate governance committee chairman Gavin Jackson, BASF Agricultural Solutions.

Other directors for 2020-21 are Sumitomo Chemical Australia managing director, Tony Brookes; FMC Australasia managing director, Kristina Hermanson; Adama Australia chief executive officer, Darrin Hines; Corteva Agriscience Australia, NZ, Japan and Korea managing director Rob Kaan and Nufarm Australia's Australia and NZ head, Peter O'Keeffe.

The executive and board provide important strategic guidance for CropLife, whose management team is led by chief executive officer, Matthew Cossey.


US director for United Malt

Decade-long GrainCorp director, turned United Malt Group board member, Simon Tregoning, is to step down next February, while high ranking American agribusiness executive Gary Mize has just joined UMG's board.

Arizona-based Mr Mize is a former senior executive with Cargill in the US, Europe and South America, a former Conagra Malt chief executive officer, and was COO of Asian agribusiness giant, Noble Group in Hong Kong.

He is currently a director of Gevo Inc, Toronto Stock Exchange-listed Ceres Global Ag and global food, stockfeed and fuel products processor and recycler Darling Ingredients International.

United Malt chairman Graham Bradley noted since the company's demerger from GrainCorp it had sought a well qualified North American director with relevant industry experience and identified Gary Mize as an "ideal candidate".

"He brings detailed knowledge and international experience across the malt and processing industries and will enhance the board's overall skills mix," he said.

Mr Bradley acknowledged Mr Tregoning's "invaluable contribution" to both companies, saying he had brought a wealth of experience from a career extending across consumer goods, agriculture and energy sectors.


New Gardiner Foundation chairman Dr Len Stephens with chief executive officer Dr Clive Noble and retiring chairman Dr Bruce Kefford.

New Gardiner Foundation chairman Dr Len Stephens with chief executive officer Dr Clive Noble and retiring chairman Dr Bruce Kefford.

New Gardiner Foundation chair

Gardiner Dairy Foundation has appointed research veterinarian and seafood industry boss Dr Len Stephens as its new chairman.

Outgoing chairman Dr Bruce Kefford said Dr Stephens would bring a wealth of experience in corporate governance and leadership, science, stakeholder engagement and project management across several agricultural sectors to the role.

Dr Stephens has specialist expertise in research management and is currently chairman of Australian Seafood Industries, Oysters Australia and a director of Animal Health Australia.

He is a former Dairy Australia director and joined the Gardiner Foundation board last year.

With family connections in Victoria's Gippsland dairy industry, where he initially worked, he became inaugural director of the Victorian Institute of Animal Science.

Dr Stephens has thanked Dr Kefford for his exceptional contributions to the foundation over two terms as chairman, including his many contributions to overall improvement of the industry.


SunRice funds for women

Women involved in Australia's rice industry and its related agricultural networks are urged to apply for the $30,000 Jan Cathcart Scholarship to help their tertiary studies.

The scholarship also offers opportunities for work experience and employment placement in the rice sector.

The scholarship - $10,000 for three years - is funded by SunRice Group in honour of Jan Cathcart who spent 43 years with the company.

SunRice chairman Laurie Arthur said the scholarship was an ideal opportunity to help shape the rice industry's future and many recipients since it was first offered in 2014 had taken on significant roles in the sector and agriculture in general.

The 2020 winner Alexandra Morona is studying Animal Science at Wagga Wagga's Charles Sturt University campus and has benefited from the financial help and industry network contacts.

She is planning work experience with SunRice's CopRice stockfeed and petfood business over summer.

Applications are open to female SunRice shareholders, growers and employees around Australia, and their extended families, until November 16.


UK organic export advice

A $100,000 Australian Government grant will be used by Australian Organic to support trade of organic products via a national education program focused on accessing UK and European markets.

The not-for-profit peak industry body is using its recently launched online platform to provide free resources and information to certified organic operators interested in exporting.

The export country-specific webinar series, launched this week will be conducted virtually via Zoom, initially focused on Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

"Each webinar will cover a range of export-related content including market selection strategies, market access, organic certification and market specific consumer trends."

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the federal government had invested in this project through its $6 million agricultural trade and market access co-operation program because of the exciting premium product export opportunities it can open up for the organic industry.

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