Brendon Cant brendon at iinet.net.au
Thu Oct 19 08:09:58 CEST 2006

GRDC Media Release




Graingrowers in WA's Great Southern were recently invited to share their
concerns with Australia's peak grains research and development body and help
direct future investments.


Frost, declining profit margins, localising research and development and new
varieties not meeting expectations were just a few of the issues raised
during the recent Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) spring


For the first time, the GRDC's Western Region Panel was split for its spring
tour, allowing it to cover more ground and speak with more growers.


GRDC Western Panel Deputy Chairman, Robert Belford, led David Capper,
Richard Oliver, Neil Young and Gavin Whiteley on a tour of the Great
Southern, while Chairman Dale Baker, along with Merrie Carlshausen, Ralph
Burnett, Ben Curtis and Greg Fraser, covered the Central Wheatbelt.


The Great Southern two day tour visited growers at Arthur River, Kojonup,
Broomehill, Nyabing, Wickepin and Brookton.


Dr Belford said the grower groups visited received productive information
about the GRDC and its investment priorities, while giving feedback to the
Panel of where and how they saw R&D investment going in the future.


"We managed to gather and deliver more information by splitting the Panel,
which was a resounding success because we now know more of the regional and
local issues affecting growers.


"This will provide the GRDC with valuable feedback on the best ways to
direct the more than $100 million it invests annually across Australia in
grains R&D," he said.


There were some local issues unique to each group, however the same issues
appeared at different localities.


The major recurring issue was frost, according to Dr Belford.


"It is a major issue, not only in the Great Southern, but throughout the
wheatbelt, with frost damage last spring cutting about 700,000 tonnes from
WA's 2005/06-harvest.


"The biggest problem for growers is it doesn't matter if they are set-up for
a bumper season, because frost wreaks havoc and quickly wipes plenty off
potential yields.


Another major issue was cost of production.


"It's no surprise that growers want more money in their pockets, however
several in Nyabing said farming was rapidly becoming an unviable business,"
Dr Belford said.


"Production costs have increased and grain prices haven't shifted with


Another major issue was new varieties being released and not performing as
growers were told they would.


"Growers requested that varieties be tested more rigorously and in more


"The GRDC is investing in the National Variety Trials (NVT), which will
deliver independent data on the performance of varieties at many locations
around the country and information is posted online.


"I urge all growers to visit HYPERLINK
"http://www.nvtonline.com.au/"www.nvtonline.com.au where sites and results
can be found on a map-based search, enabling growers to find what trials
were in their area," Dr Belford said.


The Western Panel met post-tour to share the issues growers faced and will
use the knowledge gained when making future investment recommendations.



Authorised by GRDC and issued on its behalf by Brendon Cant & Associates,
Tel 08 9384 1122

MEDIA CONTACT: Dr Robert Belford, Tel 03 5362 2112





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