By Peter Reading, Managing Director, Grains Research and Development Corporation
At a time when our grains industry and community is wrestling with significant structural changes, it is important that, where possible, industry comes together on common issues.
In turning challenges into opportunities, everyone has a role to play, everyone has something valuable to offer. So while it is a time to implement our various visions, it is also a time to practise collaboration and to consider industry-wide perspectives.
The industry"s capacity to do this was demonstrated at Grains Week 2005 in Brisbane where over two days a diversity of high-quality presentations exemplified the breadth of activity that comprises our modern, forward-looking industry.
Industry leaders reported not only on the conventional areas of research and marketing activity, but also on the enormous body of work now being done in shaping future markets, and end uses - domestically and globally.
It was the forum you would expect from a mature and confident industry, and fittingly it was the forum at which the industry had a chance to assess how far it has travelled in the 12 months since it launched the "Single Vision Strategic Plan".
Much has been achieved - solid, valuable market research, taskforces to investigate specific industry components, and the establishment of a Grains Business Forum taskforce, to look at infrastructure issues and to allow the major industry organisations and corporations to meet on a regular basis. On the production side of the industry, the grains production and value chain forum was established.
These forums showed that growers see the need to be producing what markets are demanding, rather than trying to create markets to buy what they might happen to be growing.
More options, reduced costs, and a "fair go" were all aspirations raised by growers, reflecting a keen understanding of the role of research and also of the need to have more cooperation across the value chain.
Bringing all this together needs a dedicated, pan-industry body, and it was to this end that the Grains Council of Australia approached the GRDC and asked it to establish an interim board that can act as a catalyst for further progress on the Single Vision.
The GRDC has agreed to this request to set up a board comprising commercial and R&D expertise, specialists in grain marketing, handling and food manufacturing, and also a leading independent grower.
This board will be given two years in which to keep the Single Vision strategy moving forward; working on key issues identified by the taskforces set up for R&D, infrastructure and transport, communications, biotechnology and new end-uses, and environmental and economic sustainability.
Ultimately the goal is to create support for a pan-industry body to implement Single Vision strategies.
At the end of the day it will be a whole-ofindustry decision - a choice between creating a "Team Australia" approach to our industry"s place in the world, or the status quo.