FEDERAL Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce has revealed new, three-year board appointments for three of the leading Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) with the fresh terms set to commence on October 1.
As reported by Fairfax Agricultural Media, the Grains RDC (GRDC) announcement has seen researchers prioritised over growers like WA’s Barry Large - who is deputy chair of Grain Producers Australia - in the minister’s final list of appointments, despite being recommended unanimously, by an industry appointed selection panel.
Newly appointed GRDC board members
Dianne Angus of Victoria - Chief Operating Officer, Prana Biotechnology
Professor Chris Blanchard, NSW - Professor of Food Science, Charles Sturt University
Dr Helen Garnett, NT - Chair, Delta Electricity (re-appointed)
Roseanne Healy, SA - Corporate Advisor to various organisations including Adelaide Airport Ltd (re-appointed)
Richard Heath, NSW - General Manager Research, Australian Farm Institute
Sue Middleton, WA - Executive Director, Brennan Rural Group; a diversified farm business in broadacre, horticulture and livestock
Professor Stephen Powles, WA - Professor, School of Agriculture and Environment, University of Western Australia
Outgoing directors Dr Andrew Barr, Dr Jeremy Burdon, Kim Halbert (Deputy Chair) and David Shannon.
New AgriFutures Australia board directors (formerly Rural Industries RDC (RIRDC))
Dr Kathryn Andrews, NSW - Executive Officer, NRM Regions Australia
Mr Richard Clark, Victoria - former Global Vice President, Strategic Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent
Ian Henderson, Queensland - CEO Australian Vinegar Pty
Dr Katrina Fairley-Grenot, NSW - Director, BCP Investments
Dr Anthony Hamilton, NSW - Managing Director, Merriment Rural Investments (re-appointment)
Dr William Ryan, WA - Agricultural consultant (re-appointment)
Outgoing RIRDC directors - Deputy Chair Mr Kevin Goss, Dr Len Stephens, Ms Heather Stacy AM and Dr Keith Steele
Cotton RDC board appointments
Richard Haire (Chair)
Bruce Finney (Executive Director)
Dr Kathryn Adams, Queensland - Director, Data to Decisions (re-appointment)
Elizabeth (Liz) Alexander, Queensland - Agribusiness Development Coordinator, Central Highlands Development Corporation (re-appointment)
Dr Jeremy Burdon, ACT - Honorary Research Fellow, CSIRO Plant Industry
Professor Les Copeland, NSW - Emeritus Professor of Agriculture, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney
Greg Kauter*, Queensland - Agricultural Consultant & Director, G.J.Kauter (re-appointment)
Rosemary Richards, NSW - Principal and Consultant, Bowman Richards and Associates
Outgoing CRDC board members - Dr Michael Robinson and Mr Cleave Rogan (Deputy Chair)
M Joyce welcomed the new appointments saying he had “every confidence that the new boards will continue to provide the strong leadership needed to ensure research funding is directed towards priorities that directly benefit Australian growers and drive improved profitability and farmgate returns”.
He also thanked the outgoing members for their commitment to the success of their agricultural industries.
Mr Haire welcomed the CRDC directors saying they came from a diverse range of backgrounds across the cotton, agriculture, science, education and commercial sectors.
“The role of CRDC is to drive innovation in the Australian cotton industry through investing in research, development and extension (RD&E) on behalf of cotton growers and the Australian Government,” he said.
“Our role in working with the industry to set and invest in research priorities is critical – ensuring our industry remains profitable, sustainable and competitive into the future.
“One of the great strengths of the CRDC Board has long been its diversity, with Directors each utilising a range of skills to help drive the organisation – and the industry – forward. Today’s announcement is no exception.”
AgriFutures Australia Chair Kay Hull said this year her organisation had taken close to 350 applications for six board positions which was a “staggering” and unprecedented number which far exceeded the 80 received when the process was last held in 2014.
“It indicates the aggressive new direction and positive meetings and community discussions held across the nation and increasing our profile as being open for business in a different way, building on what’s happened with the RIRDC over the past 25 years,” she said.
“We now have a really good picture of where we need to go and people are really excited about that.
“Excited by our ag-tech discussions; excited by our investing in people discussions; and excited by our positioning of agriculture as an exciting future - not just for kids who are coming off the farm but anyone who is interested in agriculture as a career.
“Mining was the big boom but has fallen off the agenda and agriculture is the next big boom but it’s a lasting one that will continue to grow with the needs of the world’s growing population.
“I’m an arm’s length from the (board selection) process but my understanding is the level of interest from significant people with strong international and commercial experiences has been unprecedented.”
Ms Hull said the recent name change would also help the researcher depict “how we move forward” allowing it to capture opportunity for addressing new trends in the agriculture sector like technological changes.
As part of the transformation, former GRDC managing director was appointed to lead the RIRDC in a similar position, in May 2016, which has also had its head office shifted from Canberra to Wagga Wagga, in regional NSW.