Report from the Chair and Managing Director
Peter F Reading
Terry J Enright
The year 2005-06 was one of mixed fortunes for Australian graingrowers. On the positive side, last season's harvest was the second highest on record. However, growers continued to face numerous challenges, including higher input costs due to rising oil prices, lower grain prices due to the continued strength of the Australian dollar, market penetration from competing countries, increasing labour shortages, and uncertainty in wheat marketing arising from the investigations of the Cole Inquiry.
These difficult production and market conditions highlight the need for national collaboration to drive R&D efforts further, to ensure that delivered outcomes enable Australian graingrowers to more effectively compete in the rapidly changing global grains industry.
Grains industry production in 2005-06
The production of winter grains and oilseeds in 2005-06 was 40.5 million tonnes, an increase of just over five million tonnes or 14 percent from the 35.4 million tonnes produced in 2004-05. ABARE's June 2006 Australian Crop Report estimated that 2005-06 winter crop production in the two major crop-growing states was 14.2 million tonnes in Western Australia and 11.2 million tonnes in New South Wales, together accounting for 62.6 percent of total winter crop production in Australia.
Summer crop production in 2005-06 was 2.6 million tonnes, a decrease of 2.1 percent compared with 2.7 million tonnes produced in the previous year. For the major summer broadacre crop of sorghum, production fell by 7.6 percent to 2 million tonnes or 76.3 percent of summer crop production in 2005-06.
Growing season conditions were variable across New South Wales. The southern and central regions had the benefit of timely rainfall but in northern New South Wales dry conditions and hot temperatures affected crop growth and development.
GRDC strategic business plan implementation
The primary objective of the GRDC's strategic business plan, The Way Forward, is to ensure that Australian graingrowers effectively compete in the global grains markets. The four core strategies to support this objective are to:
- coordinate a national portfolio approach to grains R&D
- deliver against Australian Government priorities
- grow and leverage total grains R&D
- ensure R&D is market driven.
In 2005, the GRDC reorganised its business structure to more effectively achieve these objectives, by targeting four pathways to market for grains R&D: better varieties faster; better farming practices adopted faster; new products; and building research capacity.
The new strategy and structure are effectively delivering results, as the sections on performance in Part 2 of this annual report confirm.
GRDC achievements in 2005-06
GRDC achievements for 2005-06 include the successful establishment of National Variety Trials (NVT) across all the major grain-growing regions of Australia, national breeding programs for barley and pulses and a national approach to the management of the plant genetic resource centres. The new joint venture with Philom Bios Inc. of Canada, to commercially develop new soil inoculant products, will be particularly beneficial for cereal and canola growers in Australia. Part 2 of this report provides more details on these achievements, and on the outcomes of many other GRDC initiatives and ongoing projects.
We are pleased to report that our annual survey of growers showed that Australian graingrowers remained satisfied with the GRDC's performance in 2005-06. It was pleasing to note there was a significant increase in the proportion of growers who rate the GRDC performance standard to be 'very high'. Growers are also becoming more aware of our regional panels, and taking the opportunity to interact with panel members more often.
Challenges in 2006-07
The year ahead will bring new challenges and opportunities to the Australian grains industry and the GRDC.
Based on The Way Forward, the corporation will finalise its four output group strategies, and continue to implement the strategic business plan with strong emphasis on collaborating with other industry members and RDCs to enable the Australian grains industry to remain globally competitive. The corporation will undertake a comprehensive review of its business processes in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
The strategic business plan and the four output group strategies will be the building blocks of the corporation's next five-year plan (for 2007 to 2012), which will be finalised in 2006-07. The GRDC will continue to build relationships with customers and partners to enhance performance-driven focus on outcomes.
The GRDC's achievements depend on the effective and timely implementation of its strategies and the cooperation of the Board and panel members, our staff, our key customer groups and our R&D and delivery partners. We thank them for their significant contributions to grains industry R&D in 2005-06. We are pleased to note that our 2003-04 and 2004-05 annual reports have been recognised for their high quality, and commend this year's report to the reader.
Terry J Enright
Peter F Reading