Palmquist leaving United Malt
United Malt Group is searching for a new managing director after Mark Palmquist (pictured) announced plans to retire from the job later in the financial year.
The US-based Mr Palmquist previously headed up GrainCorp in Australia for five years before taking the reins at United when it was split from the east coast grain handling, trading and processing business in March 2000.
Ahead of the company releasing its annual results for 2021-22 next month, Mr Palmqust said he felt the time was right for a new chief executive to take the maltster to its next period of development.
While the business had been challenged by the impact of the pandemic and severe drought in Canada last year, which sent barley processing costs skyrocketing, he said initiatives implemented at United Malt were setting the scene for significant performance improvements in 2022-23 and beyond.
Chairman Graham Bradley said Mr Palmquist had played a pivotal role in establishing United as a listed company.
CRT ad campaign
Rural supplies business, Combined Rural Traders (CRT), has launched an advertising campaign to celebrate its long-standing relationship with Australian farmers.
CRT, formed by independent NSW rural retailers meeting in Orange in 1970, was the business which spawned the Ruralco farm services and selling agency group before it was subsequently bought by Nutrien in 2019.
The multi-platform advertising campaign "It starts with CRT" goes behind the farm gate to showcase the retailer's historic and on-going contribution to daily farming life, particularly in support of cropping and animal health activities.
The ad, developed by digital agency Next&Co and creative agency GK Collective, steps into farmers' shoes to highlight a partnership with the farming community, through drought, floods, technology changes and crop seasons and as a source of advice.
CRT has nearly 300 outlets nationwide.
Wine industry CEO
Lee McLean will take over as the chief executive officer of wine industry representative body, Australian Grape and Wine, replacing outgoing Tony Battaglene in the Canberra role.
He has most recently been the body's general manager of government relations and external affairs, but also has had an extensive public service background in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Agriculture.
"Lee has demonstrated the past achievements and the vision that is required to take Australian Grape and Wine to the next level of evolution' said chairman, John Hart.
"Given the challenges the Australian wine industry currently faces our mandate is to be the most inclusive and effective advocacy body it can be and Lee is the best CEO to drive that outcome for the industry."
Mr McLean would move into the job as Mr Battaglene transitioned out of the role in the "near term".
New Bega CFO
Former chief financial officer with the Blackmores health supplements business, Gunther Burghardt, has started work with Bega Group as the dairy and spreads company's CFO, replacing Pete Findlay who has held the role for three years.
Mr Findlay has moved to become chief operating officer with responsibility for Bega's branded business segment.
Mr Burghardt has 30 years experience in senior finance and supply chain operation roles with a host of multinational consumer goods companies, including Proctor and Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Fosters, Kraft Foods and Treasury Wine Estates.
SunRice deputy chairman
The SunRice board has elected Riverina grower director, John Bradford, as its deputy chairman, a position which has just been reintroduced.
Mr Bradford (pictured), a fifth generation farmer, who has held previous roles on the NSW Irrigators Council, Murray Irrigation Board and NSW Ricegrowers Association, has been a SunRice board member for eight years.
He is chairman of the company's majority-owned Papua New Guinea business, Trukai Industries, and has previously been chairman of its grower services committee and Rice Research Australia.
Cultivating ESG conference
The Australian Farm Institute hosts a roundtable conference next week raising awareness of the skills farm businesses need to compete in a business world increasingly influenced by investment pressures and environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.
From farm gate to café plate, pressures to report and deliver against ESG metrics are setting new demands for agricultural supply chains, yet farmers are largely unprepared for the impacts of this growing wave.
ESG reporting has rapidly become the way organisations prove to their stakeholders how they are performing against sustainability goals and targets.
AFI executive director, Richard Heath, said farmers may think "it doesn't apply directly to me", but the reality was the ESG performance of any agricultural business working in agricultural value chains applied directly to farm businesses.
"Investment and market forces are accelerating our journey towards a sustainable future," Mr Heath (pictured) said.
The Canberra roundtable program on October 18 features 34 participants exploring what ESG is, including keynote speakers, Fonterra's Asia Pacific sustainability general manager, Jack Holden and federal Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt.
The event will be at The National Gallery of Australia from 9am, with an online viewing option also available.
AgriWebb raises $10m
Livestock business software producer, AgriWebb, has tapped the investment market for an extra $10 million, gaining two more top-tier backers.
The latest capital raising follows a big investment two years ago by Canadian telecommunications outfit Telus, Grosvenor Food and AgTech, and The Clean Energy Finance Corporation, now bringing in sustainability and agtech venture capital firms, Germin8 Ventures and iSelect Fund.
AgriWebb software monitors more than 19m head of livestock in Australia, the US, Britain and elsewhere.
Despite more challenging investment conditions of late, executive chairman Justin Webb said the market's appetite was still strong for data-driven technology which could measurably impact global food security and climate realities.
The capital will help AgriWebb to release new features which support improved animal productivity as well as sustainable land stewardship.
Skills needed in bush
Almost one third of advertised job vacancies in August were in regional Australia, according to latest National Skills Commission data.
Of the 309,000 jobs advertised, 91,000 were in the regions.
"When accounting for unadvertised jobs, which are often low-skilled, temporary positions, we know this number could be doubled or even tripled," said Regional Australia Institute chief executive officer, Liz Ritchie.
The RAI wants to see a doubling of the proportion of new migrants settling in regional Australia by 2032, and a national pathway to lift overall regional populations from today's 9.5 million to 11m.
The NSC's skills priority list identified national shortages across 286 occupations - up from 153 in 2021, with the most pronounced being in health care, trades; machinery operators and personal services such as aged care and childcare.
Two thirds of the regional vacancies were for managerial, professional, and qualified trades positions.
Ms Ritchie said shortages of builders, plumbers, electricians, machinery operators and labourers were constraining badly needed developments such as new housing and putting a handbrake on productivity growth.
"There are about 328 full time equivalent general practitioners for every 100,000 people in the regions, compared to an average of 465 full time equivalent GPs in our capital cities."
Hort Innovation vote
Four candidates are vying for three vacant board positions at the grower-owned research and development corporation Hort Innovation
Members will vote online or at Hort Innovation's annual general meeting on November 25.
The candidates are the co-founder of Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs, Jan Vydra, who has been a director since 2019 and has re-nominated; rural financial counsellor Elke Cleverdon, who has agribusiness and credit union board experience; former Tate and Lyle executive, Tony Cull, whose Australian and international agribusiness consumer goods and commodity export experience spans 25 years, and Plant Health Australia chairman, Steve McCutcheon, a 40 year veteran of the agriculture and food sectors, whose directorship experience includes the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and Food Safety ANZ
Hort Innovation chair, Julie Bird, said each candidate was shortlisted during a rigorous selection process and nominated based on their relevant skills and experience.
A2 share buyback
The A2 Milk Company commenced an on-market share buyback last week, giving itself a 12 month timeline to purchase up to 37.1 million shares at market rates on the Australian Securities Exchange and the New Zealand Exchange.
The move coincided with A2 Milk also confirming it had signed a new five year deal with its Chinese distributor, the China State Farm Agribusiness Holding Shanghai Company.
State Farm is a subsidiary of the China National Agriculture Development Group, which has a 25 per cent stake in NZ's Mataura Valley Milk business in Southland, where A2 owns the other 75pc.
State Farm chairman, Zhang Lei, said his business was delighted and honoured to continued its relationship and partnership with a company which had achieved unique success as the pioneer of A2 protein product in China, with a strong brand and premium quality products.
NeuRizer's priority status
South Australia's proposed NeuRizer Urea Project at Leigh Creek has been declared an Impact Assessed Development by the state government, recognising its significant economic, social or environmental importance to SA as Impact Assessed Development.
The declaration affords the urea fertiliser project additional support, co-ordination and information services from government agencies throughout the approval process.
Impact Assessed Development projects are assessed through state-run processes which differ from other standard development applications that are managed by local councils.
The Neurizer project promises to significantly increase Australia's manufacturing capability for fertiliser, benefiting farmers and the industrial sector where urea is used as a supply input for AdBlue and industrial resins, and creating more than 2250 construction jobs plus 1200 ongoing positions in the Upper Spencer Gulf region and further afield.
CEFC backs Wyuna fund
Canberra's Clean Energy Finance Corporation has committed up to $30 million to the Wyuna Regenerative Agriculture Investment Fund's hybrid sustainable grazing model, with the goal of delivering carbon credits, enhanced biodiversity protection and sustainable red meat production.
The Wyuna fund has also secured a $30 million commitment from global industrial property company, Goodman Group, and $5 million from the Wyuna Founders.
Wyuna Regenerative Agriculture, which manages the fund, undertakes large-scale regeneration with a focus on carbon sequestration, sustainable food production and improved biodiversity.
Wyuna will seek to generate high-quality land-based Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), by changing, reducing or removing factors that suppress vegetation growth, including from land clearing and overgrazing.
It is seeking to expand the fund's existing 40,500 hectare landholding to more than 200,000ha with sustainable land management strategies including responsive grazing, satellite monitoring of ground cover and feed availability, imaging technology to monitor vegetation and biodiversity improvements, and a focus on improving soil carbon across rangeland areas.
Almost half Australia's land mass is used for grazing and offering substantial opportunities for carbon abatement.
CEFC investment director Michael Di Russo said Wyuna and its supporters GreenPoint and the Goodman Group could demonstrate how primary producers can tap into the growing demand for carbon credits as investors and businesses pursue increasingly ambitious sustainability goals.
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