Trending Ag 2019: What we learnt

I am sure everyone who attended Trending Ag 2019 took something valuable away.

The Livestock Section opened Trending Ag 2019, with presenter Michael Finucan from MLA covering a wide range of issues to do with international markets and the uncertainty with Brexit and the change in consumer demands. Ben Stapley from Animal Medicines Australia gave us an overview of the economic contribution of vet medicines to the livestock industry. Australian Livestock Exporters Council Chairman Simon Crean gave an engaging update on the last 12 months of the live sheep export trade here in Australia and the need for a united, collaborative approach moving forward.

Following the Livestock Section was the Grains Section AGM and presentations, which included a panel discussion with four highly respected industry experts discussing the latest issues and trends for the Agricultural Chemicals industry for Western Australia’s grain growers. Dr Rohan Rainbow, Agtech Centric, Andrew Weidemann, Grain Producers Australia, Paul Luxton, Syngenta Australasia, and Gordon Cumming, GRDC spoke about the challenges to the ag chemical industry and the work that peak industry bodies are doing to protect our industry.

Keren Paterson Managing Director of Trigg Mining discussed the potential Exploration of Sulphate of Potash in Western Australia and the opportunities for farmers to access a locally derived natural fertiliser for their farming programs.

Newly appointed Head of Rural and Regional Affairs for Telstra, Dr Ben Gursansky spoke on the latest developments around rural telecommunications coming out of Telstra, and gave an update on where Telstra are at with 4G and 5G. Peter Lewis, Heavy Vehicle Technical Officer at Main Roads discussed the improvements being made to the agricultural vehicle access arrangement in Western Australia, which spurred a lot of conversation and questions from the floor.

The first day of Conference saw the election of office bearers for the commodities as well as the WAFarmers AGM. The results are as follows:

  • WAFarmers: Rhys Turton (President), Steve McGuire (Vice President).
  • WAFarmers Board of Directors: Chris Wyhoon (incumbent), Mike Norton.
  • Livestock Section: AGM to be held at next Livestock Council Meeting Friday 10 May.
  • Grains Section: Duncan Young, President (incumbent); Mic Fels, Senior Vice President (incumbent); Mark Fowler, Vice President (incumbent)

On Friday 15 March we were welcomed by an international keynote speaker who hails from Bruce Rock, WA and now calls America home. Deb Perkins, Global Head of Food and Agribusiness at ING opening address gave us a world tour of agriculture, linking the 7 million European farmers with an average farm size of 14 ha to the biggest farm in the Ukraine of 60,000 ha. Her message was, the agriculture revolution had only just started and its global revolution.

Next up we had a text book example of a farm boy, turned London lawyer, turned ag tech expert. John Fargher from AgriWebb showed us that the garage to globetrotting start up in ag tech is possible here in Australia. $20 million raised 2500 users across Australia and 10 staff is a great story.

We then had our own home grown start up with the Kitto’s story. Farmers, innovators, manufacturers and marketers; the Kitto’s took us on a great kitchen to commercial reality journey. They have done a great job with their packaging and created a diverse range of easy-to-use products.

From lupins to logistic we next had Jimmy Wilson, CEO of CBH Group. He mapped out just how much strategic and long-term planning is needed to keep CBH cost effective and competitive, and its ongoing challenges.

After Jimmy, we had ‘The Right to Farm or Not’ discussion panel lead by Peter Cooke of AgKnowledge. The panel consisted of Deb Perkins of ING, Rob Kerin from Primary Producers South Australia and CEO of Cattle Council of Australia, Margo Andrae. Two key words that continued to emerge from their discussion were trust and transparency.

Then we had the walking talking energetic Luke Bowen talking about all the things he was not going to talk about. He rammed home the point that if we don’t trade, we die. Our trade here is Australia is very much focused on the North and we need our neighbour Indonesia more than they need us, so all eyes should be turned to Northern Australia.

Richard Heath from the Australian Farm Institute made the point that there was no easy extra value in the supply chain of block chain, and the rush for data simply does not add costs.

And finally, the legendary Ross Kingwell ensured we were not complacent about future. We all know about the Russian and Ukrainian competition but Argentina is hot on our heels.

So that was Trending Ag 2019. I would like to thank all our speakers, particularly Deb Perkins and her ING colleagues who joined us from Dallas, Texas. Thank you to all our sponsors; our major partner CBH Group and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPRID), our Silver sponsors Bresland Insurance, Bailiwick Legal, DPIRD, our Bronze sponsors Telstra, Bayer Crop Science, Trigg Mining, MLA, Telstra, CropLife, our Sundowner sponsor and Gage Roads Brewing who have kindly provided their Alby beer for the Opening Gala dinner and sundowner. Thank you to our tradebooth exhibitors Bresland Insurance Group, RegenWA, Telstra, 4Farmers, Bailiwick legal, RSM, Safe Farms WA, AgriWebb, Prime Super, DPIRD, Trigg Mining, Morris Infrastructure and Muresk Institute.

A very special thanks to our hard working staff for putting the conference together, the very hard working Melanie Tolich, Shannen Barrett, Rhonda Flottmann, Kate Nicol, Kim Haywood and Jessica Wallace. Lastly thank you to the delegates who came along. 2019 was one of our biggest years, and we hope everyone in attendance gained some valuable information.  We look forward to seeing you next year, and would encourage all members to bring a new member along next year!

Trevor Whittington, CEO WAFarmers.

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