Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 094 September-October 2011 - North
Australian Grains Industry Conference SEPTEMBER -- OCTOBER 2011 GROUND COVER 12 By Clarisa Collis n 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 By Melissa Marino n A website has been set up to give growers more information about end point royalties (EPRs). An initiative of the EPR steering committee*, the website -- Variety Central (varietycentral.com.au) -- is an information hub about breeding, commercialisation, varieties and royalties. The website, outlined to industry at the conference, covers the 'who, what, when, where, how and why' of EPRs. It lists the varieties and rates for every 2010 and 2011 EPR crop and provides information on licensing and seed distribution. Monsanto royalty manager Kate Lang, who has been developing the website as part of the Australian Future Grain Leaders program, told the conference a large portion of the industry was unfamiliar with the EPR system. The website, she said, was designed to address that by increasing awareness and providing a central platform for reliable and consistent information. "There is an industry focus and a lot of current information there," she said. Monsanto royalty manager Kate Lang. PHOTO: CLARISA COLLIS Ms Lang said the most popular page on Variety Central was the 2011 wheat variety list. "It shows the name of the variety, who owns it, what the EPR rate is, how seed is distributed and whether grower-to-grower sales are permitted." EPRs were introduced in 1996 for plant breeding companies to recover their investment. Currently there are more than 180 varieties that attract an EPR across a range of crops, including cereals, pulses and brassicas. In the past five years more than 80 per cent of growers have adopted new varieties and Ms Lang said this demonstrated how important it was to breed for demand. "Growers will pick the variety that is most productive and gives them the best return ... adoption governs the returns that plant breeders will get so that's the incentive for them." □ * The grains industry formed the EPR steering committee in 2007. Comprising representatives from breeding organisations and industry bodies, its goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of EPR collection in Australia. GRDC Research Code SED00001 More information: Variety Central, www. varietycentral.com; www.grdc.com.au/SED00001 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. □ More information: Australian Grains Industry Conference, www.ausgrainsconf.com Grain growers should benefit from higher farm-gate values if the industry push to quantify wholegrains and legumes consumption in new dietary guidelines is supported By Melissa Branagh-McConachy n Health industry leaders addressing the 2011 Australian Grains Industry Conference said the value of grains and pulses should lift if Australia follows the US's lead by specifying increased consumption of wholegrains and legumes in new Australian Dietary Guidelines. The US Dietary Guidelines, released in 2010, recommend three serves of wholegrains daily and two cups of legumes each week, urging Americans to replace refined, 'white' SUSTAINABLE CERTIFICATION FOR NO-TILL WHEAT BID TO BOOST WHOLEGRAINS AND LEGUMES CONSUMPTION grain foods with wholegrain alternatives. By contrast, the 2003 Australian Dietary Guidelines -- the country's foremost reference on evidence-based nutrition information -- do not nominate intake quantities. Experts argue the oversight confuses consumers and restrains the promotion and uptake of wholegrain foods and legumes in Australia. But they remain optimistic the US guidelines will influence greater specificity in the draft Australian Dietary Guidelines, due for public consultation later this year. Dr Peter Williams, associate professor at the University of Wollongong's Smart Foods Centre, consulted to a roundtable convened by Go Grains Health and Nutrition and International Life Sciences Institute Australasia that conceived a 48-gram daily wholegrain intake target for Australians. As a guide, two slices of wholemeal bread contain an average wholegrain content of 30 to 40g, one-third of a cup of raw porridge contains 30g and one cup of cooked wholegrain pasta contains 55 to 65g. Dr Williams told conference delegates the scientific evidence suggested the target 48g daily intake could reduce the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers by 20 to 30 per cent, equating to potential cost savings of more than $1.2 billion annually. "The total antioxidant content of rolled oats and popcorn is higher than broccoli and green tea," he said. Further information about wholegrain health benefits is available in Go Grains' Grains & Legumes Health Report, which Dr Williams co-authored. The report also recommends that Australians increase their legume consumption to reduce the incidence of chronic disease and improve gut health. "Legumes are an economical source of good-quality protein and studies show that eaten four or more times a week, they can lower the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease by 22 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively," Dr Williams said. Go Grains chief executive officer Robyn Murray told the conference that ignorance of legumes' health benefits, unfamiliarity with preparation and cooking techniques, and perceived side-effects such as flatulence were barriers to higher consumption. Similarly, traditional preferences for refined grain foods and limitations on wheat consumption "based on self-diagnosis" were impediments to increased wholegrain consumption. Ms Murray said if half the population's grain food intake jumped to four serves a day, corresponding with advice in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), core grain-food product sales would rise by more than $1 billion annually, delivering $49 million-plus value at the farm gate. She said a daily target intake would also facilitate consistent wholegrain and legume messaging on product packaging, websites and television commercials, promoting greater public awareness. The approach is already proving successful for food manufacturer Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW) -- an international joint venture between Nestlé SA and General Mills Inc., who make breakfast cereals under the Uncle Tobys and Nestlé brand names -- which launched two major campaigns to increase wholegrain consumption using Milo and Uncle Tobys Oats. Marketing manager for CPW Oceania Christina Routsios said health promotions targeted at mothers and the 50-plus market have seen an additional 52 million bowls of Milo cereal (50 per cent wholegrain) served to Australian children and an extra 55 million bowls of oats served over the past four years. Go Grains will make a submission to the NHMRC during the pending public consultation on the draft guidelines. It will advocate the 48g daily wholegrain intake target and two serves of legumes each week. The GRDC is a major contributor to Go Grains. □ GRDC Research Code GOG00006 More information: Go Grains, 02 9886 2233, www.gograins.com.au; Associate Professor Peter Williams, email@example.com; Robyn Murray, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.grdc.com.au/GOG00006 Page 18: Australian diet goes against the grain Dr Peter Williams 'Variety central' sheds light on royalties PHOTO: CLARISA COLLIS Agri Services agronomist Lou Flohr with a sustainable-certified packet of wheat from the US.
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