Southern cropping region well represented by new Panel

Author: | Date: 12 Jul 2013

JOhn Whykes and Keith Pengilly

The interests of the southern grains industry are well represented by the 11 members appointed to the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Southern Regional Panel for the next two years.

In announcing the appointments, GRDC Chairman Keith Perrett said the Southern Panel’s new chair Keith Pengilley would be supported by a team with substantial cross industry experience.

“The role of the GRDC’s Regional Panels is critical in linking GRDC to growers, researchers, scientists, agribusiness and grower groups,” Mr Perrett said. “The GRDC Board considers the appointment of members to the Regional Panels as crucial to the GRDC’s success,” he said.

Panel chair Keith Pengilley agreed, saying: “The GRDC panel process is very important in ensuring grower concerns, ideas and priorities are fed into GRDC, and the new Panel consists of personnel who not only offer a broad cross-section of expertise and experience, but also geographical representation.

“The geographical coverage that comes with the Panel members appointed for the coming two years is the best we have had for some time,” Mr Pengilley said.

“Areas such as South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula and Victoria’s Mallee region are now represented on the Panel so there aren’t too many pockets of the southern cropping region that are without a direct voice.

“And when you add the more than 40 grain growers, consultants and researchers who make up the four Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSNs) which provide support and advice to the GRDC Southern Panel, we really do have all bases covered.”

The Panel comprises three new members along with eight panellists who have been re-appointed for another term.

Appointed to the Panel for the first time are Mark Stanley, who is an agricultural consultant from Port Lincoln in South Australia; Rob Sonogan, a rural extensions specialist from Swan Hill in the Victorian Mallee; and Geoff McLeod, a grower and consultant from Finley in southern New South Wales.

Mr Pengilley said the Panel selection process undertaken by the GRDC Board was thorough, ensuring the interests of growers and other grains industry stakeholders in the southern cropping region would be best served by the members appointed.

“The new Panel is well rounded in terms of industry experience and expertise. Members come from diverse backgrounds – they include growers, researchers, consultants and advisers – and all are highly respected by their peers.”

While announcing the composition of the new Panel, Mr Pengilley said it was also timely to recognise the contribution of outgoing panellists David Shannon (immediate past Panel chair) of Kapunda in SA; Peter Schwarz (immediate past deputy chair) of Naringaningalook in Victoria; and Chris Jones from Condobolin in NSW.

“These three men have represented the grains industry in their respective regions with distinction and enthusiasm. I thank them for their efforts and achievements and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.”

Mr Pengilley said members of the Panel for the coming term were already actively determining priorities for GRDC-funded R&D in their local areas and were looking forward to meeting with growers and others at GRDC Updates which will be held throughout the southern region over the coming months.

“The GRDC Southern Regional Panel is designed to be the conduit of information and insights between the grass-roots industry and the GRDC, so I encourage all growers and consultants to make themselves known to their local Panel members.”

On a state-by-state basis, the new Panel comprises:

Tasmania – Keith Pengilley (chair), Conara.

NSW – Chris Blanchard (deputy chair), Wagga Wagga; Neil Fettell, Condobolin; John Minogue, Barmedman; Geoff McLeod (new), Finley.

Victoria – Susan Findlay Tickner, Horsham; Rob Sonogan (new), Swan Hill.

SA – Richard Konzag, Mallala; Bill Long, Ardrossan; Mark Stanley (new), Port Lincoln.

ACT – Stuart Kearns, GRDC Executive Manager, Regional Grower Services.

The GRDC’s three Regional Panels are a key strength of the organisation, playing an important advisory and strategic role in GRDC investments.

The regional panels help to ensure that the GRDC investment plan responds to the regional and national priorities of grain growers and the Australian Government, and is aligned with the GRDC’s corporate strategies.

For more information about the GRDC Southern Regional Panel, visit


For Interviews

Keith Pengilley, Southern Panel chair

0448 015539


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli

0409 675100

Caption: GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair Keith Pengilley (right) at the recent BCG Grains Research Expo at Birchip in Victoria with Jon Whykes, a farmer from Wooroonook, Victoria.

Region South, North