Photo of John Lovett

About the time you sit down to read this edition of Ground Cover, a piece of agricultural history is being made.

The presidents of the peak farm organisations in the Cairns Group countries will meet, along with their Trade Ministers, in Australia as guests of the National Farmers' Federation.

President of the NFF, Donald McGauchie, believes that this is "the most important initiative by industry since the formation of the Cairns Group in 1986".

Trade liberalisation, the principal concern of the Cairns Group, is as important to graingrowers as it is to other Australian farmers. But the significance of the visit of these international leaders in agriculture goes beyond trade.

It signals that Australia, a relatively small producer but a major exporting nation, is very firmly on the international agenda.

And this is particularly the case where research and development is concerned.

1% Research Levy

Ground Cover isn't given to boasting but, increasingly, feedback to the GRDC tells us that the world is envious of the grains R&D set-up in Australia — supported by you, our readers.

With this issue of Ground Cover there is a reprint of an article in the Industry Report of the Western Grains Research Foundation of Canada. One of our fiercest competitors in the world marketplace says: "Cereal development in Australia has reached unprecedented levels, and farmers have driven the effort from the beginning." Forget the tall poppy syndrome! That's something we should all be proud of.

During a recent visit, Professor Tim Reeves, Director-General of CIMMYT (the international centre for wheat and maize improvement, based in Mexico), offered the opinion that Australia has probably built the finest wheat research program in the world.

Other feedback from the United States, Europe, South America and southern Africa indicates that Australia's model of national coordination of R&D, while preserving a strong regional emphasis, is an enviable asset without equal in other parts of the world.

It's a model founded on partnership — grower levies matched by government dollars, with the latter invested on behalf of the wider Australian community.

And, returning to the NFF, wasn't it interesting that the Federation's Australian Agri-Industry Research Project, which interviewed 1,009 Australians, showed they regarded farming as the country's most important industry — way ahead of tourism, manufacturing or mining? The reasons for this high rating were that farming feeds the country and is important to the economy. The vast majority of Australians interviewed (88 per cent) also believe that farmers manage their farms well.

This issue of Ground Cover — the most widely read specialist grains publication in this country — brings you fresh information, founded on Australia's excellent grains R&D, to help you keep our grains industry in the international spotlight, for all the right reasons.