Leading plant breeder to head up the GRDC

GroundCover Live and online, stay up to date with daily grains industry news online, click here to read more
Portrait of John Harvey

Outgoing GRDC managing director John Harvey has been appointed to head up RIRDC.

PHOTO: Brad Collis

Portrait of Dr Steve Jeffreies and Dr Norman Borlaug

Dr Steve Jefferies (left) with Nobel Laureate Dr Norman Borlaug during his visit to Australia in 2003.

PHOTO: Brad Collis

The CEO of Adelaide-based Australian Grain Technologies (AGT), Dr Steve Jefferies, has been appointed the new managing director of the GRDC. Dr Jefferies will take up his appointment in July as successor to outgoing managing director John Harvey.

The appointment was announced in March by GRDC chair Richard Clark, who said Dr Jefferies would be responsible for developing and implementing the GRDC’s next five-year strategic R&D Investment Plan from mid-2017 and continuing the rollout of four regional offices, at Adelaide, Perth, Dubbo and Toowoomba.

“Dr Jefferies already has a marvellous story of achievement and leadership within the industry,” Mr Clark said.

“He has been a trailblazer in the transition of wheat breeding from the public to private sector, and has taken AGT from a four-person start-up to Australia’s largest plant breeding and variety commercialisation company – and one of the world’s largest, too.

“Since 2014, more than half of the Australian wheat crop was planted using varieties developed by AGT. As the GRDC moves forward, his experience in communication with research partners and international companies will be invaluable.”

Mr Harvey had been with the GRDC for more than 17 years, including nearly six years as managing director during a period in which the grains industry has almost doubled in value.

Mr Harvey will take this experience to another rural research body, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), as its new managing director.

RIRDC’s chair, Professor Daniela Stehlik, said Mr Harvey’s long experience in the agricultural sector and proven leadership skills would ensure the continuation of RIRDC’s valued work and high standing among its stakeholders.

“The RIRDC board undertook an extensive national search for a suitably qualified person and we are confident Mr Harvey will lead RIRDC successfully through what we anticipate will be an exciting time for the corporation.”

Mr Harvey began his career in agriculture as a soil conservationist and extension agronomist with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries. He joined the GRDC in 1997, becoming an executive manager in 2001 and managing director and CEO in 2011.

More information:

Kate Lord, executive manager communications, GRDC,
02 6166 4500,


Damon Whittock, communications and public affairs manager, RIRDC,
02 6271 4175


Accountability front and centre


Award for hands-on support

Region National