Australia’s grains industry is entering an era of unprecedented opportunities, according to the new chair of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Regional Panel.
Keith Pengilley says those opportunities – born of increasing demand for grain for human consumption and stock feed – will be particularly attractive for southern region grain growers due to their regional proximity to expanding markets and their ability to adapt to climate variability.
Mr Pengilley, a mixed farmer from Tasmania, will take over the Panel chair role from David Shannon, of South Australia, who has occupied the position for the past eight years.
GRDC chairman Keith Perrett today congratulated Mr Pengilley on his appointment (effective July 1) and at the same time paid tribute to Mr Shannon who is stepping down from Panel duties after 15 years in total as a member and chair.
“I am pleased to announce that Keith Pengilley will be leading the Southern Panel for at least the next two years,” Mr Perrett said.
“Keith has been a member of the Southern Regional Panel for the past two years and during that time has demonstrated enormous passion and enthusiasm for GRDC and its efforts to increase grain grower productivity and profitability.
“He understands GRDC’s strategic direction and its research, development and extension investment process, and through his close connection with a broad industry network, Keith is well placed to strengthen the links between GRDC and its key stakeholders, particularly growers.”
Mr Pengilley, 34, operates a large mixed farming enterprise in Tasmania’s northern midlands where grain production accounts for two-thirds of the family business.
He grew up in the Liverpool Plains region of New South Wales (where his parents continue to farm) and studied at the University of New England in Armidale before working in an extension role in central western New South Wales.
This background combined with his previous experience as an agricultural consultant and as a co-founder and Managing Director of Tasmanian Agricultural Producers Pty Ltd has given Mr Pengilley a unique insight into different farming systems and an appreciation of the issues of most concern to growers.
Mr Perrett said Mr Pengilley “has the right mix of experience and skills to successfully lead the panel into the future”.
Mr Pengilley, who will also sit on the GRDC’s National Panel, said he was looking forward to taking on new responsibilities and promoting and supporting sustainable and dynamic agriculture, not only on behalf of the current crop of grain growers, but for generations to come.
“Research and extension programs are needed to facilitate the ongoing creation of farming systems that are robust and reliable and carry a limited amount of risk – and GRDC has a fundamental role to play in that process,” he said.
He believes Australian agriculture, and in particular the grains industry, is entering a challenging but exciting era which is presenting farmers of his generation with outstanding opportunities.
“Advances in technology, plant breeding and the development of new grains varieties with superior agronomic packages will enhance our ability to boost productivity and market share in the face of increasing climate variability,” Mr Pengilley said.
Mr Perrett said the Panel chair vacancy generated an exceptional field of candidates, underlining the value and importance placed on the role and the contribution of the Panel to the grains industry’s growth and development through the GRDC.
He said David Shannon was to be applauded for being a distinguished and well-respected leader for the GRDC during his time as Panel chair and as a Panel member.
“David has applied himself admirably to the role, and the GRDC and its various industry stakeholders have benefited immeasurably from the service he has provided,” said Mr Perrett.
“His legacy is a highly-regarded panel that works effectively in the southern region in fulfilling a very important function – that of providing advisory and strategic input into GRDC investments.”
Mr Perrett said the panel system was a key strength of the GRDC.
“Each of the three Regional Panels acts as a conduit of information between growers and the GRDC, helping to channel funding into the most relevant and appropriate research and development projects.”
Caption: Incoming GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley.
Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli