Sustainable certification for no-till wheat

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

Increased consumer awareness of where food comes from provided a strong basis for a system to certify as sustainable wheat produced by Australia’s no-till farmers, the conference was told.

However, Agri Services SA agronomist Lou Flohr added the caveat that sustainable certification for Australian wheat was unlikely to succeed in mainstream markets if growers sought to use this to attract a price premium.

For this reason she said certification was better suited to niche markets, which would allow growers to extract a premium to cover the costs of on-farm auditing under such a system.

As a participant in the Australian Future Grain Leaders program investigating the viability of sustainability certification in Australia, Ms Flohr said surveys in South Australia showed growers see marketing, segregation and logistics as major barriers.

She said that while 80 per cent of Australian cereal producers had embraced no-till, growers were unsure or sceptical about marrying this to sustainability certification.

“Growers doubt whether a sustainability accreditation system would provide a competitive advantage,” she said.

Nonetheless, Ms Flohr pointed to the success of a US-based company, Shepherd’s Grain, which markets sustainable grain to bakeries and restaurants in Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

Shepherd’s Grain provides consumers with information about where food comes from and how it is produced by growers via a website link on product packaging (www.findthefarmer.com). This allows consumers to trace grain back to the 33 growers who supply the company.

She said the benefits for Shepherd’s Grain growers include access to niche markets, having guaranteed buyers and an established price for their commodity based on a reasonable rate of return. 

-By Clarisa Collis

More information: Australian Grains Industry Conference, www.ausgrainsconf.com

Region National, Overseas, North, South, West