With harvest on the horizon, GrainGrowers’ National Policy Group (NPG) met face-to-face again in Albury NSW to discuss recent and emerging challenges for the industry. The group also had the opportunity to meet face to face with other growers during GrainGrowers’ Annual General Meeting and at GrainGrowers’ stall at the renowned Henty Machinery Field Days.
Items on the agenda at the Albury meeting included an overview of grains biosecurity, developments related to sustainability, climate and the ISCC, and an update on GrainGrowers’ latest advocacy efforts. The group also met with major Australian grains bulk handlers for an operational update of the grains supply chain and to discuss the future strategic freight task. The group also received a briefing from Incitec Pivot about its business operations and fertiliser supply issues.
Bulk Handler update
The NPG was joined by CBH, GrainCorp and Viterra to discuss the current state of the grains supply chain and associated infrastructure and preparations for the coming harvest, as well as receive an update on training, equipment and recruitment for this harvest. A particular focus was falling numbers with NPG seeking to work with handlers to ensure consistent use of these machines and seeking a concerted effort to find a more reliable replacement technology. The NPG recognised common issues and limitations with road, rail and port infrastructure and discussed ways to ensure a coordinated plan and appropriate investments moving forward.
Reducing emissions, sustainability and Climate
The NPG identified its climate related asks for the new Government and were briefed on GrainGrowers’ advocacy efforts on climate and farm sustainability. The NPG met with Professor Richard Eckard (University of Melbourne) regarding a proposal to substantially reduce emissions through the use of coated fertiliser. Key issues discussed included the underlying science, transition required, logistics, practicality, and ensuring the economics stack up for growers.
The NPG discussed the changes to ISCC which come into place on 1 December 2023 and reiterated their concern about the Europeans prescriptive approach to sustainability and the need for Australian environment and sustainable farm practices to be better recognised. GrainGrowers has been advocating for ISCC to establish a chapter that better reflects the agricultural systems of Australia, and GrainGrowers’ recent membership of ISCC will ensure a strong grower input to these processes moving forward.
The NPG were given an update on the latest developments in biosecurity, with a particular focus on industry response to pests such as Varroa Mite and Foot and Mouth Disease. The NPG were briefed on GrainGrowers’ latest advocacy efforts in this space, such as advocating for an economic analysis of the impacts of Foot and Mouth Disease, as well as seeking clear guidance on the management of livestock, equipment and processes on a mixed farming environment.
Discussion with GRDC
Following GrainGrowers’ Annual General Meeting, the NPG alongside other growers attending the Meeting had the opportunity to hear from GRDC's Managing Director Nigel Hart and Head of Industry and Government Relations Justin Crosby on GRDCs investment, key projects and progress on the development of its new strategic plan.
The NPG will continue to meet virtually over the coming months with the next face-to-face meeting planned for February 2023. GrainGrowers would like to thank the NPG for their contributions. For further information about any of the issues discussed or to provide feedback, please get in touch at email@example.com.
About the NPG
The NPG provides input into, reviews, and approves GrainGrowers’ policy positions that are developed on behalf of Australian grain farmers. NPG comprises of 15 elected grower representatives, five from each of the Western, Southern and Northern regions. The group meets throughout the year in person to review the important issues affecting growers. Further information is available at: https://www.graingrowers.com.au/policy/national-policy-group