A WIDE range of graingrowers from all across the State were chosen to participate in the CBH Growers Study Group this year, which travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Jakarta, Indonesia.
The group was a strong mix of different farming enterprises - from just cropping to mixed - with growers from farms of 1500 hectares to more than 15,000ha.
Farmers from all different stages of life were represented in the group, including older or newly retired farmers (the oldest member of the group was 79) and those who were just starting their career in agriculture (the youngest being 18).
Growers Advisory Council (GAC) member and recently semi-retired Carnamah grower Noel Heinrich said the trip had renewed his belief in agriculture in Western Australia and he believed the industry was in safe hands.
"It's great to see these young faces - I'm getting out of farming, so it's brilliant to see these young people who want to give farming a crack," Mr Heinrich said.
Eighteen year-old Yuna grower Madi Green was one of the youngest in the group and had been a little nervous to be surrounded by farmers who had been in the game much longer than she had.
However, by the end of the trip, she was so glad to have had the opportunity.
While she had learnt so much from the factories she had visited, the teenager also learnt a lot from talking to farmers from all across WA.
"It's been cool to talk to other growers about their farms and what they do - I met a lot of people and grew connections I wouldn't have otherwise," Ms Green said.
She has left the trip with a new appreciation for the industry and said it was great to see what happens beyond the CBH bin.
"I'm proud of what we do and how important we are in our industry in supplying food to everyone," Ms Green said.
"I went to factories that I have never seen anything like before and I got to see what actually happens to our grain."
Ms Green said she would heavily encourage other young people to go on the trip, because it was a "great opportunity like nothing else".
On the other end of the spectrum, 79-year-old Jennacubbine farmer Lyn West said she had been farming since 1964, but had never had the opportunity to see what happened after she delivered her grain to CBH.
"I've always thought I would love to go on a CBH study tour and I'm very pleased I came to see the end product," Ms West said.
"It's very good to see such a wide range of ages, my mum used to say never let age stop you, so I would encourage anyone to go."
For Mr Heinrich, the highlight of the trip was visiting traditional bakery Dyan's Bakery and traditional noodle factory Mie 88.
"It was absolutely brilliant, I've learnt so much on this trip," he said.
"It's incredible to see what our market is doing and where our end products go to - it's just been really eye opening."
A member of the GAC, Mr Heinrich has always been passionate about CBH, so he took the opportunity to see the work CBH does overseas with both hands.
He said he made some lifelong friends that he was looking forward to staying in contact with.
"I would recommend this trip to anyone, you would be silly if you didn't want to come - you can't go past this trip," Mr Heinrich said.
"We ate more food than I've ever seen in my life and the hospitality has been incredible."
For Hyden farmer Tyron Utley, the trip has prompted him to think about Australia's farming practices and whether the grain he was producing on-farm had the qualities customers were looking for.
"I had an interesting conversation with one of the flour millers, and he was saying that the quality of Australian wheat for the purpose of milling for flour has been deteriorating in the past 15 years," Mr Utley said.
"It's great to see they use Australian wheat, but it's interesting to hear their side of it and what they think of our products."
Mr Utley said perhaps growers needed to be more cautious that they aren't just chasing yield, but also the qualities Australia's buyers were looking for.
Flour millers aren't just looking for higher protein, which is perhaps the most talked about, but also the quality of the gluten and how quickly the grain absorbs moisture from the atmosphere.
"Those are two other qualities that they look for which have changed considerably and, by the sounds of it, the American and Canadian wheats are far ahead of the Australian wheats in terms of those qualities," Mr Utley said.
"It may be something we lose market share of in the future if we are not careful.
"Typically we chase yield, but we also have to make sure we don't lose market share because that'll also drag prices down."
Relatively new on the farm and hailing from Perth, Mr Utley found the trip very useful to understand more about the industry and believes it will help him make more informed business decisions.
"As farmers, we are quite mindful of global influences because they have a big impact on our inputs and how much we can sell our grain for," he said.
"So understanding a bit more about the industry has been quite helpful - we are not just doing a blind assumption when selling grain."
Mr Utley highly recommended farmers to consider going on the trip if they had an opportunity.
"I think if you can get at least one member of the family along, it doesn't have to be your key person - it could be your wife, son or daughter - come along because you'll learn so much you can take back to your family," he said.
Mt Walker farmer Bert Garbin said he was "really amazed" how widespread Australian grain was in the Indonesian and Vietnam markets - from big factories to little bakeries.
"Seeing Australian flour in the wet market, which - by the way - the wet market was revolting, but knowing that was Australian grain was amazing," Mr Garbin said.
"I was flabbergasted by the Heineken brewery which produced millions of cans of beer a day.
"I've never been on anything like this before, and I wanted to see what happened to our goods and how they were value added - I was pretty impressed."
Nukarni grower Kate Caughey said she found the trip "fascinating" and enjoyed visiting the Intermalt factory.
"The malting process is really interesting - I think I knew it in theory, but to actually see it was great," Mr Caughey said.
"They said that keeping the grain stable before it's malted is so important - I hadn't given that much thought before.
"We think our standards are very rigorous, and even though Australian grain may sometimes be higher in price, it's good to hear they are still getting value."
Korrelocking farmer Dale Tyler also found Intermalt very impressive, even though he personally didn't farm barley.
He said it was exciting to see the scale of the population and the potential for Australia to further sell grains to the region.
"It's exciting for all products out of Australia that the region is still growing and Australia has a lot of advantages," Mr Tyler said.
"We don't give a lot of thought to it once it leaves the farm, but it's very important to see where it goes."
Jennacubbine grower Jo Smith said the trip made her realise what a "vital part" of the story Australian growers were and made her even more proud to be a part of the industry.
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