Global Agriculture

Australia: $30 million to reduce risk for grain growers

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22 August 2023, Australia: A new five-year, $30 million national investment by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to help Australian grain growers better manage risks such as drought and market volatility has been launched today by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt.

Making the announcement at the 50th annual AgQuip event in Gunnedah, Minister Watt says the investment in the RiskWi$e program is one of the largest ever grower-facing initiatives undertaken by GRDC.

“The Australian grains industry continues to go from strength to strength and the Albanese Government is committed to backing grain growers, grain producers and grain exporters,” Minister Watt says.

“Whether it is protecting the industry from biosecurity risks, repairing trade relationships, exploring new market access opportunities or investing in programs to make the industry more sustainable into the future, we are always supporting the grains sector.

“This groundbreaking initiative will help the industry be better prepared for the risks of the future.

“I am incredibly proud of the work being done by GRDC and I look forward to seeing the benefits flow through to producers going forward.”

RiskWi$e partners in Sydney for a workshop to advance the initiative that aims to help Australian grain growers better manage risks such as drought and market volatility. Photo: GRDC

The program will be led by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, in partnership with more than 25 grower-based groups from across the country, along with the South Australia Research and Development Institute (SARDI), University of Melbourne, University of Queensland and University of Western Australia.

GRDC Board chair and Queensland grain grower John Woods says RiskWi$e had been developed to support growers to make informed, often highly complex decisions at both agronomic and farm management levels.

“Seasonal conditions, paddock considerations, cash flow, labour availability, market opportunities and business goals all come into play when you’re deciding what to grow each year,” Mr Woods says.

“Farming is an increasingly complex operation and GRDC recognises this and has been working with industry to understand how we can better support growers to manage risk and build enduring, sustainable enterprises.”

Mr Woods says the investment had been developed in response to growers in various forums, including GRDC’s National Grower Network, highlighting concerns that the risks associated with farming had escalated in the past decade.

“RiskWi$e aims to give growers and their advisers the tools to evaluate potential risks and rewards, and develop an holistic and integrated approach to risk management,” he says.

The project will focus on five priority area: nitrogen (N) decisions, sowing decisions, enterprise agronomic decisions, enterprise financial decisions and managing natural resource capital.

CSIRO’s Dr Rick Llewellyn and Dr Lindsay Bell will co-lead CSIRO’s coordination of grower group activities, analytics, behavioural science and farming systems research across Australia.

Each will focus on the risks and decisions that are identified by growers as being most challenging.

“Australian grain growers deal with exceptionally high levels of volatility and uncertainty in their production environment and ongoing profitability depends on how well decision making is handled under these conditions,” says Dr Llewellyn.

“RiskWi$e goes beyond just analysing risk. It is based around engaging with the most important farm-level decision-making challenges raised by growers and advisers, and then jointly coming up with practical ways to inform and boost confidence when tackling those decisions.”

CSIRO will co-ordinate the action research groups, which include more than 25 grower-based organisations and are led by:

  • NSW: Charles Sturt University (CSU),
  • Queensland: Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF),
  • South Australia – Central: Hart Field-Site Group Inc,
  • South Australia – Western: Agricultural Innovation and Research Eyre Peninsula Inc (AIR EP),
  • Victoria and South-East South Australia: Birchip Cropping Group (BCG), and
  • Western Australia: Grower Group Alliance (GGA).

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