Grains industry news in brief 17.2.22

Gregor Heard
By Gregor Heard
Updated February 17 2022 - 5:57am, first published 5:42am
Saudi Arabia has imported less barley in the first half of the marketing year.

Grains Australia appointments

Grains Australia (GAL) has appointed international trade facilitation specialist John Ackerman to the newly established role of general manager of trade and market access.

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The position will cover many of the duties formerly undertaken by the Grains Industry Market Access Forum, which came under the GAL umbrella last year.

GIMAF chief executive Tony Russell is stepping back from full time employment.

As part of his role Dr Eckerman will be responsible for the coordination of all grains industry market access issues and opportunities.

There have been high profile cases of Australian grain losing market access in recent years, such as the Chinese tariffs on barley and Indian tariffs on pulse crops.

Meanwhile, in other news at GAL, Megan Sheehy has been appointed to another newly created role as general manager of classification.

GAL chair Terry Enright said the GM classification role was a key executive position within GAL, with Dr Sheehy responsible for the coordination and delivery of Australia's grain variety classification outcomes.

Prior to taking on the GAL role Dr Sheehy was executive chair of Barley Australia for the past six years.

"One of Megan's first tasks will be to support and maintain the established technical structures and processes of grain classification as GAL finalises the integration of Wheat Quality Australia into the new company and, in the near future, other industry organisations responsible for classification," Mr Enright said.

Seed of light winner

Dale Grey, seasonal risk agronomist and communicator with Agriculture Victoria, has been presented with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) 2022 southern Seed of Light Award.

Voted upon by the GRDC southern region panel, the Seed of Light award acknowledges outstanding effort in the extension of outcomes from GRDC investments.

Based in Bendigo, Victoria, Mr Grey has worked for Agriculture Victoria for 27 years and currently provides agronomy, climate and weather analysis for farmers, agribusiness, government and the media across south eastern Australia.

Lentil breeding changes

The lentil breeding program at the Grains Innovation Park in Horsham will receive a revamp thanks to a significant investment boost from Agriculture Victoria and the Grain Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and could see lentil production expand into NSW and WA.

Over the past decade, the GRDC together with research partners has invested $16 million in the Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA) lentil breeding program, which has delivered nine varieties with improved yield and better fit for southern farming systems.

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Additional investment into lentil agronomy has seen lentil production in Australia increased from 196,000 tonnes in 2011 to over 500,000 tonnes in 2021, with an estimated annual farmgate value of $350 million.

Agriculture Victoria senior research scientist Garry Rosewarne said the latest investment partnership with GRDC was welcomed by the research team as an opportunity to continue creating new and improved lentil varieties for growers.

"Over the next five years we will see a huge increase in capability, capacity and infrastructure for our lentil breeding program," Dr Rosewarne said.

"Trials in our expansion zones will double, particularly interstate in WA and NSW, where our relatively small trial sites will develop into fully fledged advanced trial sites."

FAO increases cereal production

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has increased its world cereal production forecast for 2021 by 2.1 million tonnes, lifting its projection to 793 million tonnes, 0.8 per cent higher year-over-year.

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The southern hemisphere was the major driver of the upward revision, with better than expected wheat production in Argentina and Australia.

In the north there were also slightly higher production estimates in the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

World cereal stocks at the close of seasons in 2022 have been lifted since December by 2.2 million tonnes, to 824 million tonnes, only slightly lower than their opening levels.

Saudi barley imports down

SAUDI Arabia, which has emerged as a major buyer of Australian barley once again in the past two years has seen a big drop in barley imports in the first six months of the 2021-22 marketing year according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

FAS estimates imports at 2.36 million tonnes for the first half of the year, compared to 4 million tonnes during the same period of the previous year.

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Media reports have said supply chain issues, such as a shortage of vessels, along with a drop in local demand, were the key drivers of the big fall in imports.

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Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

National Grains Industry Reporter

Gregor Heard is Fairfax Ag Media's national grains industry reporter, based in Horsham, Victoria. He has a wealth of knowledge surrounding the cropping sector through his ten years in the role. Prior to that he was with the Fairfax network as a reporter with Stock & Land. Some of the major issues he has reported on during his time with the company include the deregulation of the export wheat market, the introduction of genetically modified crops and the fight to protect growers better from grain trader insolvencies. Still involved with the family farm he is passionate about rural Australia and its people and hopes to use his role to act as an advocate for those involved in the grain sector. Away from work, he is a keen traveller, having spent his long service leave last year in Spain learning the language.

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