The GRDC has a range of stakeholders across the industry, ranging from the grain growers at the farmgate, to the research community and the wider industry.
The contributions to the GRDC made by Australian grain growers through levy payments is significant, as is those made by the wider community through the Australian Government.
These contributions are utilised by the wider research community to cultivate productivity and profitability outcomes. Often, GRDC investments are leveraged with funds from those groups, further increasing opportunities for return on investment. These research groups include organisations such as:
- State Government Departments
- Breeding companies
- Other RDCs
- Cooperative Research Centres
- Grower Groups.
All investments, research outcomes and developments in variety improvements and farming practices affect the wider grains industry in Australia. As such, the GRDC is continuously liaising with the end point for grain after it has left the farm. These stakeholders cover groups such as:
- Bulk Handlers for domestic and export grain
- Consumers of the end product.
More information on how the GRDC interacts with and reports to these stakeholders can be found at Stakeholder report
The grains industry plays a vital role in Australia’s economy. Analysis by the Department of Agriculture shows that in 2010–11 grains and oilseeds comprised Australia’s largest category of food exports, representing 24 percent of total agricultural exports. The grains industry also plays an important role in the health of Australia’s community, through its contribution to healthy foods, food security and environmental stewardship.
Grain growing occurs across the Australian landscape, under a wide range of conditions. Despite diverse challenges, the Australian grains industry is highly productive, and competes successfully in export markets while delivering high-quality products for domestic use.
Australian grain production is characterised by a predominance of winter cereals, produced across a wide area in a number of distinct agroecological zones with differing climate and soil characteristics and diverse management requirements. Pulses and oilseed crops are also significant, both in their own right and as break crops to assist weed, pest and disease control (and provide other benefits such as nitrogen fixation) in the dominant cereal rotation.
Australia’s grains industry produced an average of 34 million tonnes of grain each year between 2006–07 and 2010–11. For that five-year period the average area sown to grains each year was 20 million hectares (similar to the average for the 10-year period from 2001–02 to 2010–11), and the industry had an average annual gross value of production at the farm gate of more than $9 billion.
The average level of production masks substantial differences in yearly production statistics. These differences primarily reflect differences in rainfall. For example, while total grain production reached nearly 46 million tonnes in 2005–06, in the following year production was less than half that amount because of much lower than average rainfall in many cropping regions. Managing the risks associated with variable climate is a crucial challenge for the industry.
The grains industry’s rate of growth in total factor productivity (TFP)—the ratio of the total quantity of outputs to total inputs—has been strong and sustained. From the late 1970s through to 2007–08, the Australian broadacre grains industry experienced an average annual rate of TFP growth of 1.9 percent, well above the annual rates of other rural commodities and Australian industry as a whole.
TFP growth was not evenly spread within the grains industry or its regions: specialist croppers in some regions achieved rates of more than 3.5 percent per year over two decades or more, a remarkable achievement for any industry.
Specific drivers of the grains industry TFP growth have included better varieties, improved agronomy, more efficient equipment, and improved business skills and decision-making, all combined in the form of grower innovation.
In recent years, TFP growth has slowed, in part reflecting the impact of a prolonged drought. Regaining the momentum in productivity growth, especially as a key response to the continuing decline in grain growers’ terms of trade, is a high priority for the industry.